Should we use fewer condoms to boost fertility?

May 18, 2021 11:19
Photo: Xinhua

Shih Wing-ching, the boss of Hong Kong’s No.1 property agency Centaline is not known for making some astonishing arguments for nothing.

In his daily AM730 column yesterday, the outspoken businessman urged people not to use birth control products – or at least not before having two children – to boost fertility.

“I know some people would find this absurd,” wrote Shih, “but given the aging society, insufficient social momentum and the ineffectiveness of all fertility incentives, this option cannot be ruled out, even though it may not be a desirable one.”

Well, that could be bad news for Durex and other condom makers.

Perhaps for a moment, we should try to understand the logic behind Shih’s idea.

According to the latest estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency, Taiwan’s fertility rate will be 1.07 in 2021, the lowest out of 227 countries or regions.

Together with Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and South Korea, the bottom five are all in Asia.

African countries have the highest fertility rate. Niger ranks No.1 with an estimated fertility rate of 6.91 children per woman.

Meanwhile, the CIA estimates China’s fertility rate at 1.60 for 2021. One might think low fertility rate won’t be much of a concern for China, which already boasts the largest population, constituting about 20% of the worlds’ total. But apparently, this is not the case.

“According to the existing data, in the next 10 years, the number of women aged 22 to 35, which is the childbearing period, will drop by more than 30 percent compared with the present data. Without strong policy intervention, China’s new-born population is likely to fall below 10 million in the next few years, and its fertility rate will be lower than Japan’s, perhaps the lowest in the world,” the Global Times cited an economics professor at Peking University.

China recorded 12 million births in 2020, down from 14.65 million in 2019 and marking a drop for the fourth consecutive year, according to the results of the seventh national population census released by the National Bureau of Statistics last week.

A Chinese demographer told the official mouthpiece that India’s population may surpass that of China by 2023 or 2024.

It goes without saying that the low fertility rate in many Asian countries is inversely related to the working hours in Asian societies, known for their hardworking level and exemplified by Alibaba’s famous doctrine of “9-9-6” (working from 9am to 9pm, six days a week).

Another reason is these Asian countries tend to rely more on human capital than natural resources so people have to work extra hard to keep their balls going.

So, how do people find time to make babies? Perhaps giving them more holidays would be more effective than asking them to use fewer condoms in this light.

-- Contact us at [email protected]

EJ Insight writer