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Aging population in Shanghai may be catalyst for change

06-24-2010 14:09 BJT

BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The increasingly troubling demographics of an aging population in the financial hub of Shanghai may be just the catalyst needed to revise the country's current population policies, Thursday's China Daily reported.

According to the local population authorities, the birth rate of Shanghai's registered population is "at a very low level" in the world. In 2009, the total fertility rate in Shanghai was 0.83, while it was 2.6 globally, including 1.7 in developed Western countries and 1.8 in China.

"The aging population is a serious problem. The city's long-term, low birth rate will structurally skew the population, which will create a series of social problems,"said Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission.

Shanghai's aging population began to surface in 1979, 20 years before it became noticeable elsewhere in the country. The city has also seen 17 successive years of negative population growth, according to a report from the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau.

The most populated city in China currently has more than 3 million registered residents aged 60 and above, nearly 22 percent of its population. By 2020, the group is expected to encompass one-third of the city's total population.

In addition to the family planning policy, high living costs and competitive conditions in Shanghai make more and more young people less willing to start a family, contributing to the continuing decline in the birth rate, experts said.

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