More than half of mainland Chinese polled wanted to have a second child, according to an online survey released days after the nation's watchdogs for family planning indicated they might loosen their grip on the one-child policy.
Some 56 per cent of about 1,400 people surveyed said they would like to have a second child, said the poll by the Southern Metropolis Daily, released on Sunday. And 28 per cent said they would like to but could afford only one child; 12 per cent said they did not want any children.
The survey came only two days after the 21st Century Economic Herald, a leading business daily, said China would soon allow  couples in which at least one partner is a single child to have two children. The report cited sources close to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, which regulates and enforces the one-child policy.
By 2015, the mainland would move to a two-child policy, the paper reported. Several media outlets followed up with similar reports.
Mao Qunan, a spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, later said the office was "studying"  a relaxation of the policy. This would add about 9.5 million additional births every year, according to Bank of America analysts .
The one-child policy was last eased in 2011, when China's third largest province Henan, allowed two single-child parents to give birth to two children. The relaxation had already been extended to all other provinces in 2007.
Further loosening is widely anticipated as China's labour force moves towards its peak, or has already peaked at 920 million people, according to some studies . Many have also blamed  the policy of worsening the gender imbalance in the country.
By 2020, Chinese men of marriageable age will outnumber women by 24 million, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, if the policy remains unchanged. That would leave some 10 per cent of 20- to-40-year-olds without a partner by 2030, Bank of America estimated  in January.