China Prepares for 'Golden Pig' Baby Boom
In China, city-dwellers are only allowed one child, so many are timing their pregnancies according to the traditional lunar calendar to promote the most auspicious birth. Some newspapers have called 2007 an especially lucky "golden pig year," which only comes around every 60 years. And that is spurring a baby boom.
Bao Huiyuan, 30, is expecting her first child in June. "They say children born in the year of the pig will be especially intelligent and healthy, so everybody is rushing to have babies this year," she says.
The baby boom is leading to fears of a labor shortage. At Huiyuan's company, about 10 percent of her department will give birth this year.
In Shanghai's hospitals, heavy-bellied women are lining up to see doctors. The city's maternity beds are booked solid until March.
The city government has even stepped in, warning women to try to avoid getting pregnant this year. As Huiyuan points out, these piglets will compete for hospital beds and go on competing throughout their lives — for school places, university places and eventually, wives.
Some say that the media doesn't understand Chinese fortune telling, and that the golden pig year craze is just hype.
Still, commercials for baby products are taking up double the air time, and companies are preparing for bumper sales.
Outwardly, China may be changing unbelievably fast, as skyscrapers sprout and farmland is gobbled up by ever-expanding cities. But beneath a modern veneer, traditional superstitions run deep.
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