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Year of Pig leads to spike in birthrate
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After more than a decade of low birthrates, Shanghai is now expecting a mini baby boom, officials said yesterday.

According to a report by the Shanghai municipal population and family planning commission, by the end of the year, some 160,000 babies will have been born in the city, about 20 percent up on last year.

Between 1993 and 2003, Shanghai witnessed negative population growth, so the authorities have welcomed the new birthrate figures.

However, Xie Lingli, director of the family planning commission, said: "We expect the birthrate in Shanghai to continue to increase up until 2015, but the overall growth in the population will not be that significant."

The report forecast that in 2008, 175,000 new babies will be born to the city's permanent residents, who include people with registered residences and those who live in Shanghai for more than six months a year.

The commission issued its first annual birthrate forecast report in 2003.

Xie said the fact 2007 was an auspicious year (of the pig) had led to a spike in the number of babies born.

Many couples believe it is good luck to have a child in the Year of the Pig.

Xie Yiqing, an office worker in Shanghai, said: "I would see four or five pregnant women every day on my way to work this summer, and that's unusual. It really does seem to be a good year for giving birth."

However, Sun Changmin, deputy director of the commission, said: "While it seems like we are experiencing a peak in the birthrate, it is really only because we are comparing it to the low rates of recent years. The actual population of Shanghai won't grow by much and the rate won't increase significantly for several years."

Xie said the large number of babies born to migrant families (those who spend more than six months a year in the city but do not have a registered residence) had helped boost the figures.

Shanghai has an estimated 5-6 million migrant workers and the birthrate among those aged 18 to 36 is about the same as that for permanent city residents of the same age, Xie said.

(China Daily November 8, 2007)

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