China says most women want two or more babies

Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:52am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Most women in China, where the majority of families are restricted to just one child, would like to have two or more children to prevent their babies becoming spoilt or lonely, state media said on Friday.

China, with the world's biggest population straining scarce land, water and energy supples, has restricted most families to one child since the late 1970s.

But experts say a traditional preference for boys, especially in rural areas, is leading to a growing gender imbalance stemming from aborted or abandoned baby girls.

"Our research shows that 70.7 percent of women would like to have two or more babies," the China Daily quoted Jiang Fan, vice-minister of the National Family Planning Commission, as saying.

Most women, or 83 percent, want a son and a daughter, the survey said. The character for "good" in Chinese is the characters for boy and girl combined.

"Some mothers think only-children suffer from loneliness and can become spoiled," Jiang was quoted as saying.

He said the trend of gender imbalance among newborns had slowed since 2005 but the problem remained "very grave," with the ratio still above 103-107 boys to every 100 girls.

Magazine editor Lin Ying, 26, told the newspaper she wanted to have two children in the next five years. "Only-children often grow up to be self-centered," she was quoted as saying.

Despite the survey results, the commission said China would achieve its goal to keep its population within 1.36 billion by the end of next year.

"China's family planning policy underpins the country's economy and demographics," Li Bin, minister of the commission, was quoted as saying.

(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

<p>A mother carries her baby wrapped in a blanket out of a hospital for children in Beijing January 16, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray</p>