CHINA> Regional
Shanghai soon to be city of geriatrics
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-17 09:33

SHANGHAI: Shanghai's permanent population graph is likely to dip further this year, the authorities said yesterday.

The births of 96,700 children were registered with the city's hukou, or household registration, system last year while 107,000 died, following a 15-year negative natural growth, a report from Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau said.

In 2009, the number of childbearing women, between 20 and 29, is declining while that of people above 60 is on the rise, it said.

Related readings:
 Shanghai's registered population grows
 UN: World population to hit 7b in 2012
 Expert warns China may miss last chance to tackle aging population
 No change to population policy

Last year there were more than 1 million women between 20 to 29, the highest in the past two decades, and above 3 million aged 60 and upwards, more than 21 per cent of the city's total permanent population.

By 2025, the latter group is supposed to cover one-third of the city's total population.

"Since early 1990s, Shanghai has been seeing a low birth rate and high death rate," said Ren Yuan, a professor with the Population Institute of Fudan University.

"It is a result of family planning and in recent years young people are less willing to give birth," said Ren, citing high living costs as another factor causing a decline in birth rates.

"In a highly competitive society, leaving work to give birth could make women lose opportunities for better career development," he said, adding that urban young couples are often unwilling to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of having a baby.

The presence of elderly people in large numbers is an additional burden on the working age group who support the city's social welfare system, according to Professor Gui Shixun of Shanghai Normal University.

While Shanghai is spending more on facilities and healthcare for the aged, it's the families who have to take on the extra load, he added.

As more and more aged people stop working in the city, Shanghai will lose out on its labor force and need more immigrants to make up for it, Ren said.

By the end of last year, there were nearly 19 million registered residents in the city, among whom 6 million did not have a hukou registration.

Last month Shanghai, known to be a keen population watcher, announced policies approving permanent residency to talents from outside, laying out the rules for the first time.

"The new policy is not made because of the negative natural growth of population, but could, in a way, adjust the city's population structure," Ren said.