|The lowest birthrate.. The unsustainable population|
|Written by Fay Wang|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2007|
As more and more well-educated couples choosing the "DINK" lifestyle, which means "double income, no kids," Hong Kong's birth rate is hitting the lowest record in the world. According to the latest figures from the Census and Statistics Department, local women produce an average of fewer than 0.8 children, much below the 2.1 children per woman, the magic number needed to keep the population from shrinking.
"Most couples I know wait until their 30's to have children, or simply stay child-free," said Ms. Chiang, a government officer, who remains DINK lifestyle with her husband for more than 11 years.
The older generation argue that the younger generations are too self-indulgent, and simply don't want to sacrifice a pleasant lifestyle for the difficulties that children can bring, but for younger generation, lack of economic stability seems to be the main reason behind this decision, if people are uncertain about tomorrow, they will postpone the decision to have children or living a child-free lifestyle. And the changing role of women in the workplace also provides less time for child-raising.
At the same time, the pace of aging is accelerating. Currently, about one in 10 people is 65 years or older, and according to government projections, by 2030, the figure will rise to one in every four.
The Hong Kong government is trying to encourage couples to have three children. The government knows a low birth rate has implications not only for individual mothers, but for whole societies.
The government has put forward many measures in recent years to encourage women to have babies: providing tax incentives to the family, extending a school voucher plan to subsidize early education, introducing a five-day working week to reduce work pressures and give women more time. The government is debating whether to copy Sweden's 13 months maternity&paternity leave policy, and also adjust immigration policy to attract more young talented bachelors.
At the same time, gynecologists caution those who postpone having kids that once they change their minds, they may have missed the best time for physically bearing children.
But local young people have not bought the government's new measures, especially women, who continue to stay in school longer, put more emphasis on work and marry later, or simply keep single status-- all of which has sent the birth rate into a rapid, sustained decline.
"I don't think if the government introduced more family-friendly policies, people like us will change our minds," said Ms. Chiang. "Because nowadays, people want to have their own life, they tend to think more about their careers and themselves, when you see life in these terms, children are an impediment.''
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 May 2007 )|
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