About 40 percent of Nanjing residents who meet China's requirements to have a second child are unwilling to do so, according to a report released by the city's family planning commission this week.
The capital of Jiangsu province is facing the lowest birthrate in recorded history at 1.3 children per couple.
Statistics show that in the 1950s and 1960s, the average number of children per couple in Nanjing was 5.8, the report said.
Hesitation to have a second child and the current family planning policy are among the reasons for the falling birthrate, according to the commission.
In the city, children under age 14 now account for 9.5 percent of the population, while at the time of the fifth national population census in 2000, the figure was 15.45 percent, the report said.
The national figure is 16.6 percent.
"I don't want a second child no matter how persuasive my parents are," said Chen Yanqiu, a 32-year-old mother who lives in Nanjing's Yuhua district. "Bringing up one child is much harder than I imagined. When my daughter was a baby, I never had the chance to sleep for more than four hours a night. Changing diapers, breast-feeding three times during the night and watching over her when she was awake really exhausted me."
Chen meets China's requirements of having a second baby - both she and her husband are the only child of their parents.
Chen said she agreed with her parents that having a second child would make her 4-year-old daughter less self-centered and bring more joy to the family, but she's concerned about the pain of another childbirth and the fatigue that follows.
"If you have no nannies or parents to help you out, having two children probably means saying goodbye to your personal life," said Chen.
Lin Pan, a 27-year-old woman working for a foreign trade company in Nanjing, said that family finances are a major factor in her decision to have a second child.
"Neither imported diapers nor infant formula are cheap in China. If you want your kids to be admitted by a reputable primary school or high school, you'll have to purchase a very expensive apartment in a nearby neighborhood, which will cost no less than 30,000 yuan ($4,900) per square meter.
"Now I spend about 2,500 yuan a month to buy food, diapers, vitamins and toys for my baby," Lin said. "That is half of my salary. I won't even think about having a second child until I'm financially prepared."
Yuan Xin, an expert on aging-population studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that China has had a low birthrate for at least 21 years.
According to Yuan, China's birthrate has continued to go down since the family planning policy was introduced in 1971. In 1992, the country's birthrate reached the replacement level, which is 2.1 children for each family.
"A low birthrate will result in a population decline and contribute to an aging society," Yuan said. "But if all the couples in China are allowed to have a second child, more than 200 million people will be born by 2050, which might have a huge impact on society."
Yuan suggested that the family planning policy should be eased to some extent to change the current low birthrate.
"If one member of a couple is an only child, and the couple is allowed to have a second child, then about 50 million to 60 million people will be born by 2050. It will be acceptable to China and will help adjust the aging society."