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Drop in low-cost labor forecast
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But he opposed scrapping the policy, calling for it to be relaxed instead.

"The family planning policy is a long-term national policy. It's different from the one-child policy," he said.

For instance, in many parts of China, couples who themselves are the only child in their families are allowed to have a second child. In some regions, a second child is permitted if one of the parents is an only child, he said.

"Sensible and progressive population policy reform is needed in China, and related departments are studying the possibilities," Cai said.

He also rebutted views that the family planning policy has resulted in a gender imbalance, with the country having 30 million more men of marriageable age than women in less than 15 years.

"Gender imbalance is irrelevant to the family planning policy," Cai said.

The root of the imbalance is a traditional preference for sons, which is in turn caused by widespread gender prejudice in the job market, and a defective social security system that made people, especially rural couples, feel that they needed a son to depend on when they get old, Cai said.

(China Daily March 12, 2008)

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