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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 9:54am
NewsHong Kong

For the first time, more one-child families in Hong Kong

They comprise 37.5pc of local households, outpacing those with two children, as proportion of childless couples rises, survey shows

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 1:14pm


  • Economic pressures: 82%
  • Late marriages: 10%
  • Cultural factors: 8%
22 May 2013
  • Economic pressures
  • Late marriages
  • Cultural factors
Total number of votes recorded: 289

Hong Kong's low birth rate has fallen further in the past five years, with the number of one-child families outpacing two-children households for the first time, a survey shows.

Of 1,518 married or cohabitating women aged 15 to 49 surveyed by the Family Planning Association in its latest five-yearly study, 37.5 per cent had one child and 32 per cent had two children.

The average number of children per household reached a record low of 1.12 last year, compared with 1.49 in 2007 and 1.6 in 2002.

The association interviewed the women and 1,059 of their partners between August and December. "The drop can be attributed to the significant rise in the number of people with no children," said Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, chairman of the association's research sub-committee.

Yip added that the proportion of childless families rose markedly from 16.1 per cent in 2007 to 23.4 per cent last year.

But it was wrong to say Hongkongers dislike children, he said. The survey shows that most respondents would like to have two children, but 39 per cent of women ended up having fewer children than they wanted - the biggest gap between actual and desired outcome since 1987.

Economic pressures, tough working environments and late marriages were all contributing factors.

The economic factor is weighing on parents more heavily than before, with 29.7 per cent of women citing this as a difficulty last year, up from 15.4 per cent five years ago. Dr Susan Fan Yun-sun, the association's executive director, said its concern was reflected in a question that asked respondents what government policies would be effective in encouraging them to have children.

"In the previous surveys, no policy we proposed was appealing enough to gain more than half of the respondents' support. They were not willing to have more children no matter what. This time, more than 50 per cent of respondents said subsidies for education, medical services and housing would be effective incentives," she said.

Late marriage - the average age of marriage for women is now 28 - also makes it harder for them to have two children before 35, the age at which the pregnancy rate drops significantly.

Families should think ahead and adjust their life goals so they would not have any regrets, Fan said.

The city's fertility rate - the number of children a woman gives birth to in her life - is now 1.2, the same as Singapore, but lower than Japan's 1.4 and America's two. Taiwan's rate is even lower at just 1.1.

Yip said the continuing drop in birth rates could become a problem and should be taken into consideration by the government during policy formulation.

"Sixty per cent of support given to the elderly comes from their families. If the elderly have no children, the responsibility of taking care of them will fall on the government," Yip said.


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This article is now closed to comments

Why should we be surprised by this?...............for the longest time, it's known that HK families cannot afford more than one child and housing is one of the biggest problems............Over the years, the government's stance and actions have only benefited the property developers and no one else..............why would anyone want to have a larger family in HK?
Yes it is obviously to do with housing and nothing to do with selfishness or shirking responsibility.
HKs spolit generation are very good at complaining.
Hence the well known crowded and mega expensive place Taiwan has a rate even lower than HK. Likewise Singapore has one of the highest government housing programmes IN THE WORLD with people living in spacious government housing (only 10% private, so if ur not a foreigner housing is guaranteed).
Its obviously much more to do with Asian culture, competing to get the best whether its to do with everyone going to top 10% of schools or showing off money. But basically making up excuses why they dont have children rather than looking themselves in mirror and admiring their designer bags n clothes.
Government is not helping in it.
Favor has always been given to money and people from outside who can bring it.
How can you expect a couple to have more than one child when there is almost no affordable day care. If you want to continue to work and raise 2 kids you whether are lucky enough to have relatives having time to take of them. Or enough money to hire a helper.
Then come the issue of living space, if you want to put a 4 pax family plus a helper, it's a living hell to make them live in a 500sq ft.
Also there is not a lot of government subsidy to encourage it.
The only encouragement is to OT every day and pretend with other colleagues in front of their bosses eyes that they leave late at work.
How many kids can you fit in a shoebox for 3/4 month's salary?
I would liek to meet the demographers who are surprised by this?
The real question is quality. Are families with fewer kids ensuring they are well fed, educated productive? If yes then no real issue.
Some people will ask about how will people with no children retire. Well I would think as childless couples don't have the expenses of raising kids then they will have tons of savings and able to easily carefor their own retirement.
This earth is already strained with people. The natural and best think is for population growth to stop or 20 years from now it will not be a good place to live.
Government should push education.
China should discard her infamous one-child policy and forced abortion. She should learn from HK the Soft Power to control her population.
The shocking news in this article is the large and growing gap between desired # of children and actual # of children. Also the ever declining birth rate and TFR are sad highlights, especially in the light that >50% signal that it is purely for economic reasons. As in: they cannot afford having more children.

The fact that single children families are now 'a majority' (which then is not specified anywhere in the article) is the kind of minor trivia that is certainly not worthy of a headline.
China needs to retain the 1 child policy. It only needs to modify it so people are happy with either sex of the child or place bit more emphasis on girls.
China is dying under too be a population right now with smog, pollution, lack f space and lack of good food. Increasing the population will only make this worse.
In effect, raising children may not be a tough job, but most of parents want to make their kids be geniuses by investing a huge amount of money to let them join in non stop extra curriculum lessons, which is the point to make people draw back from giving birth. is ita necessary to put such sum of money to refine the kids for excellence .
Exactly, and by the time they have given out so much money just to "raise" one child, they wouldn't have extra budget for a second one unfortunately.



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