Beijing - In a dimly lit arcade in downtown Shanghai, shopkeeper Xia Zihan holds out a glinting, yellow-glass carving of the fertility goddess Guanyin, a range she says is starting to sell well after China relaxed its single-child policy last month.
“Since the news allowing a second child, we’ve already asked our factory to increase production of the Guanyin statues,” said Xia, adding she expected to see a 10 percent to 20 percent rise in demand for the figurines that cost about 1 000 yuan (R1 700) each.
Beijing said last month that it would allow millions of families to have two children, the most radical relaxation of its strict one-child policy in close to three decades.
With an estimated bump of up to 10 percent in the number of births a year, the demand for maternal healthcare is bound to surge, a lift for private hospital operators who are increasing their share of China’s gigantic health-care market.
“I think for the short term we can expect some kind of rebound of the fertility rate as women rush to have more babies in the next few years,” said Peng Xizhe, a demographics expert at Fudan University in Shanghai.
The new rules, which will roll out gradually around China, will allow couples in which just one parent is an only child to have a second baby, part of a plan to raise fertility rates and ease the financial burden of China’s rapidly ageing population. – Reuters