Date
24 October 2017
Many call the government’s recent campaign to encourage bigger families unrealistic. Photo: The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong
Many call the government’s recent campaign to encourage bigger families unrealistic. Photo: The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong

To have or not to have babies

In recent years, only about 10 percent of women in Hong Kong have more than two babies, according to a study.

Many couples love kids, but in a RTHK report, they cite different reasons for not having babies, or not having more than one.

Financial burden is a common complaint. To have more kids, one needs more space but properties and rentals are expensive.

Even if money is not a big issue, who is going to take care of them while the parents are at work?

Not everyone can count on babies’ grandparents to look after them. Some are skeptic about relying on domestic helpers.

“Day care centers are not enough,” one mother points out.

Some are worried about the future of Hong Kong.

“There seems to be a lack of prospects, there are more conflicts in society and the government is not doing a proper job,” says another.

A 2012 study showed a quarter of the interviewees considered Hong Kong an unfit environment to raise kids, compared with just 7 percent in 2007. The number could be higher now, RTHK reported.

Realizing a shrinking population could evolve into economic woes, the government has been encouraging Hongkongers to have a bigger family for over a decade. The Family Planning Association has also renewed its call for couples to have more babies.

However, the government appears to be paying only lip service to the issue without backing the call with real incentives.

Singapore, for instance, offers tax breaks and priority to acquire public housing to families willing to have a third baby. They are also offered discounted rates for public housing flats. There is no such baby bonus in Hong Kong.

If the trend persists, the city’s working force is tipped to peak out in 2018, and by 2041, three in 10 Hong Kong people will be aged 65 or more.

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CG

EJ Insight writer

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