Shandong leads way on 2nd child
Many Chinese parents worry that having a second child will put a strain on their financial resources, but parents in Shandong Province are the most likely to succumb to the idea.
The Shandong provincial statistics department said on Sunday that by the end of 2017, population of the province has hit the 100-million mark, and has the most newborns nationally.
Since 2016, China began to allow all couples to have two children, bringing to an end to a 40-year-long single-child policy.
In 2016, 1.77 million babies were born in Shandong, up 42.7 percent from the year before, according to Xi Yan, director of the provincial commission of health and family planning.
From 2013 to 2015, the provincial population maintained low-speed growth, but it suddenly became faster in 2016, Xi said.
“Nationwide, Shandong’s newborns were about one-tenth of the national total, more than those of the other two population-rich provinces of Guangdong and Henan,” she said.
“Compared with other provinces, people in Shandong have stronger traditional beliefs that more children mean more blessings,” said Cui Shuyi, director of the institute of population in the Shandong Academy of Social Sciences.
“Meanwhile, as one of the richer provinces in China, proper hygiene and health conditions also help convince more mothers to give birth to babies.”
China’s birth rate has declined despite policy incentives. Nationwide, China recorded 17.2 million live births in 2017, the second year that all Chinese couples have been allowed two children, down from 17.9 million in 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Experts said a growing number of newborns is encouraging when the Chinese society is aging.
In Shandong, the number of people above the age of 60 is 20 million, about a fifth of the total. By 2020, the number of seniors will climb to 22.3 percent of the total provincial population, according to government forecast.
Experts have called on the government to increase spending on education, health care, employment and housing to cope with changes in demographics.