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Qualified couples in China's Shanghai asked to have second child

Beijing: Facing a sharp decline in work force, Shanghai authorities have appealed to "qualified young couples" to have second child as 30 per cent population of China's biggest business hub will be aged 60 or above by this year's end, official media reported today.

As the world's most populous nation struggles to grapple with the surging numbers of the old, the demographic crisis were more pronounced in Shanghai, China's biggest city with over 21 million people struggling to find work force.

In a rare public call, an official at Shanghai's Population and Family Planning Commission which oversees the city's birth control, appealed for "qualified young couples" to have two children.

The comment came on Sunday during a consultation as part of the annual meeting of the Shanghai people's congress, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The official was quoted as saying the benefits of having a second child including family stability and social development.

Shanghai is one of the first big Chinese cities to face this population dilemma.

By the end of this year, nearly 30 per cent of the population, or 4.35 million people, will be aged 60 or above, as per the figures from the municipal government. This will pose a serious challenge to China's one of the most economically dynamic cities.

China lifted its decades-long one-child policy in 2013 under which couples can apply for permission to have a second child if one of the parents is an only child. Yet the impact of the change in policy has not been as great as expected.

Commission figures showed 90 per cent of local women of reproductive age were eligible, but less than five per cent of them had applied, paper quoted Fan Hua, director of the commission's family development bureau as saying.

Fan said the rising cost of bringing up children and the desire of many women to develop their careers were behind the lack of interest in having a second child.

While the option of having a second child appears less popular than expected, migrants from the country's rural areas, the main workforces, continue to face strict migration controls.

The household registration system, or hukou system, leaves migrants unable to enjoy the best social benefits like local residents.