Record low level of Hong Kong’s young adults want children: survey

Record low level of Hong Kong's young adults want children: survey
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Only around half of Hong Kong’s young adults plan to have children, a record as the city struggles to boost fertility rates, according to a survey published Friday.

The Chinese finance hub has one of Asia’s lowest fertility rates, combined with an ageing population, and last year recorded just 33,200 births in a city of 7.5 million.

A survey by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong showed 51.1 percent of young women and 44.8 percent of young men wanted children — a fall of around nine percentage points over the past decade to new depths.

One-child families also beat out two-children families for the first time as the preferred choice of young adults in Hong Kong, according to the survey.

“Only 50 percent of the young people who are aged 18 to 27 would like to have children,” said Paul Yip, a population health expert at the University of Hong Kong who led the poll.

“Young people like to have more freedom and more control over their life… (and) they are concerned about the financial difficulties they will experience if they want to raise a family,” Yip said.

The top reasons cited by respondents for not having children were fear of child-rearing responsibilities, society being unsuitable for children’s development and heavy financial burdens.

The poll, conducted every five years, contacted about 1,200 people aged between 18 and 27 in 2022.

Hong Kong recorded a fertility rate of 0.75 last year, well below the global replacement level of 2.1 births per woman.

City leader John Lee announced in October a one-off cash bonus of HK$20,000 ($2,600) for each newborn to fight the city’s “persistently low birth rate”.

Yip said the government still had room for improvement in encouraging births, adding that the cash bonus was a “good gesture” but unlikely to sway those on the fence.

Those who did want children also pushed back the ideal age for their first childbirth, the survey showed, with the median figure being 30.4 for women and 32.7 for men.

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