Beijing, July 10: China has witnessed a "steady growth" in the number of couples opting for a second child, with nearly 1.45 million submitting applications until the end of May after the world's most populous nation eased its controversial one child policy to address demographic imbalances.
The number of couples, comprising 13 per cent of the total eligible, opting for a second child has seen a "steady growth" since a major policy change came at the end of 2013, when couples were permitted to have a second child if either parent is an only child, Yang Wenzhuang, official at National Health and Family Planning Commission, said today.
Each month, an average of 80,000 to 90,000 couples submitted applications for a second child, with the peak reaching 150,000 a month last July and August, Yang said.
Yang said the procedures Chinese couples must go through before registering their babies at local household bureaus have been simplified, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The number of couples who qualify - those who already have a first child and in which at least one parent is an only child - is about 11 million, with nearly 70 per cent of them born after 1980, he said.
A survey of the National Bureau of Statistics showed that 40 per cent of the couples that meet the requirement intend to have a second child. China introduced its family planning policy in the late 1970s to rein in population growth by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two, allowing the birth of a second child if the first child was a girl.
The number of infants born last year was up 470,000 from 2013, when the new policy was put in place. Although the adjustment did not lead to a baby boom as many expected, experts said its effect will be seen in four or five years as time is still needed for full implementation of the two-child policy.
The authorities need time to assess the results of the policy change before making further adjustments, they said.
China began relaxing one child policy since 2013 to address the concerns over the looming demographic crisis threatening to reduce its labour force as a result of growing population of old people.
According to the official figures, the population above the age of 60 is expected to touch 221 million putting lot of strain on pension funds and health services.