By Hilary White

December 16, 2009 ( – The city of Shanghai’s efforts to reverse more than 30 years of anti-child government propaganda, and boost the city’s flagging birth rate are not being well received by the public, a report in the Washington Post says.

The Chinese government is allowing couples to have second children and are considering more easing of the country’s one-child policy. But the results of the new permissions, some officials say, have been disappointing.

In Shanghai, posters and leaflets telling people how to apply for permits to have more children have replaced anti-child propaganda, but, officials complain, the number of births in the city in 2010 is not expected to rise significantly.

Despite these efforts, in Huinan township, with a population of 115,000, officials only receive four to five applications for children a month and in Shanghai the number of births in the city in 2010 is still expected to be only about 165,000, lower than 2008.

The Post quoted Shanghai residents Wang Weijia and her husband who said that they had no intention of having another child. “We have already given all our time and energy for just one child. We have none left for a second,” said Wang.

According to UN reports, since the implementation of the policy in 1979, the birth rate in China has plummeted from an average of six children per woman to the current rate of 1.8. The number of people over 60 is expected to grow from 16.7 per cent of the population in 2020 to 31.1 per cent by 2050. Last year, people 60 and older accounted for almost 22 per cent of Shanghai’s registered residents.

The Post quotes Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission, who said that fertile couples need to have babies to “help reduce the proportion of the aging population and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future.”

Shanghai will become “as old, though not as rich, as developed countries such as Japan and Sweden,” she said.

At the same time, Chinese delegates to the UN conference on climate change currently underway in Copenhagen, have defended their country’s policy saying it has helped them to reduce carbon emissions. The Copenhagen conference opened at the same time as the UN Population Fund released a report calling for the reduction of the human population in the interest of the environment.

Read related LSN coverage:

Shanghai Starts Backpedaling One-Child Policy in Face of Demographic Implosion