BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- A health official predicted that China will see more couples apply for a second child this year than 2014, as a result of easing one-child policy to allow couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child.
As the policy has just been eased in 2014, many families are at the preparing stage, and the application is estimated to increase this year, said Mao Qunan, a spokesman with the National Health and Family Planning Commission, at a press conference on Monday.
Since China's one-child policy was eased in a pilot program in east China's Zhejiang Province in January 2014, couples nationwide may now have a second child if either parent is an only child.
Nearly one million couples have applied to have a second child, and the number of applications is in line with the estimate of less than two million annually by the commission, said Mao.
Mao said that the commission will put more effort toward improving the population monitoring mechanism and will stipulate relevant policies.
"We will also collect public opinions on health care for pregnant women and children in a timely manner," Mao added.
In many cities, couples qualified to bear a second child are far less than the expected number.
According to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, since Beijing relaxed one child policy, around 30,000 couples have submitted their applications to a second child, while Beijing previously expected an extra 50,000 births annually.
Other cities, such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Liuzhou, also see similar situation.
The China Youth Daily released an online survey among 2,052 people in late 2014, showing that only 24.9 percent of the couples who are qualified under the policy have submitted applications for a second child.
"Economic cost," "time cost" and "one child is enough" were the top reasons for not having a second child, the survey said.
Net user "chouwenniuer" wrote at Chinese Twitter-like Weibo.com that "we want more children, but we cannot afford."
In recent years, China is facing decreasing working-age population.
Figures provided by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that as of the end of 2013, China has more than 919 million people aged between 16 to 60, 2.44 million less than 2012.
Also, people above 60 exceeded 202 million, accounting for 14.9 percent of the total population, and people above 65 years old take 9.7 percent of the total population.
According to Jiang Yongping, a researcher with the Women's Studies Institute of China, taking care of kids and housework will affect women's career which is a main reason for women to be less willing to bear a child.
"Chinese people is changing their views towards reproduction, and relevant policy-making department should consider to adjust their policies," said Zheng Yefu, a socialist and also professor with Peking University.