Year of the boar

by Karin on June 10, 2010 · 0 comments

in China, Travel

The golden pig cohort
Feb 8th 2007 | BEIJING
From The Economist print edition

As China enters an auspicious year, the birth rate is expected to
soar

HOSPITALS across China are bracing themselves for what is expected to
be a surge of babies born in the year of the pig, which starts on
February 18th. Pig years, which occur every 12 years, are considered
auspicious. But the coming one, or so many believe, will be
especially fortunate since it is not just a pig but a golden pig, the
first in 60 or even 600 years, depending on which astrologer one
consults.

China's state-owned media have carried numerous stories of
gynaecologists struggling to cope with unusual numbers of expectant
women. Life Times, a weekly newspaper, quoted an official as saying
that Beijing alone could see 170,000 births this year, 50,000 more
than in 2006 (quite an auspicious year itself). The increase is
partly the result of a mini-baby boom in the 1980s, which was in turn
caused by a boom two decades earlier. But officials say the golden
pig has much to answer for.

In recent years, Hong Kong has become a magnet for urban Chinese
women trying to evade China's strict one-child policy and enjoy
better standards of hospital care (often free since many leave
without paying their bills). But those hoping for a golden pig baby
in Hong Kong will face difficulties. To stem the influx, Hong Kong
introduced new rules on February 1st requiring mainland women who are
more than seven months pregnant to prove they have a hospital booking
in the territory before they can cross the border.

China's top family-planning official, Zhang Weiqing, said last month
that given the current bulge in the number of people reaching
childbearing age, the government would not relax its one-child
policy. This will probably mean that the golden pig's impact on the
birth rate will be followed by a correction once the auspicious
period is over (next year is also being tipped as lucky, what with
the Olympics and all).

But problems are bound to arise as the golden pig cohort reaches
school age. In some parts of China, children born in 2000, the year
of the dragon (also very auspicious, as suggested by the chart), are
already facing stiffer than usual competition for places. In Shanghai
last week, deputies to the local legislature's advisory body called
on city planners to start taking account of auspicious years when
considering education demand. They also appealed to citizens to
abandon superstition, but that is much less likely to be heeded.

Originally posted 2007-02-19 15:35:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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