• Sun
  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 4:13am
NewsHong Kong
POPULATION

Baby bonus to boost Hong Kong birth rate to be proposed in consultation

Steering committee set to launch consultation on ageing population crisis will raise idea of cash handouts to couples who have children

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:58pm
 

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  • Yes: 16%
  • No: 84%
15 Oct 2013
  • Yes
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Total number of votes recorded: 348

Cash handouts to couples who have children and tax rebates for family-friendly bosses could be on the agenda as Hong Kong looks to solve the problem of its ageing population.

They are among ideas expected to be debated in a four-month public consultation due to be launched next week.

The consultation is designed to help the government's steering committee on population policy find ways to encourage more couples to have children. The committee will ask broad questions rather than make concrete recommendations.

Committee member Paul Yip Siu-fai, a demographics expert at the University of Hong Kong, said: "Women in Hong Kong do desire a child. It is the social barriers that deter them from having one."

The consultation comes amid worrying predictions that a third of Hongkongers will be aged 65 or over by the year 2041.

Committee members, who declined to be named, said they would raise the idea of financial incentives similar to those offered in Singapore and Canada.

In Singapore, parents receive a "baby bonus" of S$6,000 (HK$37,323) for their first two children and S$8,000 for their third and fourth. Working mothers also save S$3,000 in taxes if grandparents act as carers. In Canada, parents receive monthly government subsidies ranging from C$156 (HK$1,168) to C$185.

Other proposals discussed by the committee include tax incentives to employers who pay for childcare services for their workers, paid parental leave for employees to visit schools to review their children's report cards, and improved access to assisted reproductive treatment.

Yip said that last year, his research team interviewed more than 1,500 married or cohabiting women. The proportion who wanted a child or a second child rose from 12.7 per cent to 20.2 per cent - the highest figure since 1992. But the number of women who went ahead and had a child actually went down.

"That means they need more support to realise their desire," Yip said. "It would involve a great change of mindset for workers, officials and employers."

The committee would also propose that all government bureaus be required to carry out detailed family impact studies on all future policies.

Anthony Wong Kin-wai, of the Council of Social Service - which has a committee representative - said: "The assessments should be comparable to the statutory assessments conducted on environmental impact and be examined by the Family Council."

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37

This article is now closed to comments

johnwe
Child allowance is much preferable to cash inducements to start a family.
It rewards existing parents with young children and provides assistance through the lifelong job of bringing up a family as well as acts as an enticement for newlyweds and childless couples to have children. A one-off cash award is like paying people a fixed sum to have sex without contraception to try to produce babies.
Allowance of $2,000 pm for the first child and $1,200 pm for the second (or an appropriate sum) should start on completion of first month after birth and continue to 12th or 15th birthday.
Legally adopted children should also qualify although regular unscheduled checks should be conducted to ensure that adoption was not just a convenience to qualify for the allowance.
After all, raising kids is a lifelong job and not a handsomely paid one-off unprotected orgy in bed.
johnyuan
I believe people in Hong Kong are rational and instinctively withhold from marriage and having children because of unfavorable living and working conditions in Hong Kong. In order to be otherwise, a wholesale approach is the only viable choice. No government piecemeal approach or individual’s effort can fix this broken city.
…….
Let us ask one fundamental question: where to find land to accommodate the expanded population? Let us treat Hong Kong’s ill holistically.
mercedes2233
How much of a baby bonus can encourage a lifelong financial and other commitment to a child?
lokuohsiung
Hong Kong has provided plenty of disincentives to raise a family for decades. Ridiculously high cost of living as a proportion of wages, a public education system which provides a strong argument for home-schooling, crumbling social values due to the disruption of the family unit... Attaining work-life balance in Hong Kong is only possible if you are either a high-income earner, or have no intention of raising a family.
Anything the government can do to make things a little bit easier would help. As it is, the government does little enough with its "laissez faire" attitudes. The marketplace isn't going to always provide solutions.
I'm a father of three and I have to face the likelihood that my childrens' taxes will be paying for your social security when you all are retired.
khannea.suntzu
This will not work. Any new revenuecattle added to the already pathologically overpopulated Hong Kong area will aggravate the service disequilibrium. It is like trying to reduce forest fires with massive wind turbines to "blow out the fire". Demographic disharmonies can not be cured by adding taxslaves to the mix. It is inhumane - it asks of parents "please have more children in order to make sure they get to become peons paying for a massive tide of geriatric dependants". What will those new people do, 20 years from now? They will look at this societal clusterfuck and emigrate. Or they'll decide to not work, and just live as bums. Why work if your only functionality is to cough up taxes for **** swarms of old people?
Yes - age composition is a problem world wide. Look at the numbers and look at the effective cost.
Any sane analysis will show there is only one humane and societally affordable solution.
****business.time.com/2013/09/18/google-extend-human-life/
L.L.
I am a little be doubt, about this subject... I have to learn to make a baby with LOVE... not to to fill up your country??? That is not right... or get a bonus? but I love baby... they are very cute... if I get a job, i will choose for baby job...
Tips, to make healthy lovely beautiful baby... drink everyday 1 glass fresh press orange, everyday one cup warm porridge, no salt/sugar by cooking, eat more vegetable than normally, before u pregnant 3 month folic acid... sleeping/rest a lot, so quick u job... oke! U baby will be healthy and beautiful...
So spare or save a lot of money, before u want beginning with this job... it's not easier... Lady's!!! Your baby need your love, not a nanny oke... I hate this people to make a baby for a nanny... Stupid Mother!!! Dump her, if she want choose her job, not for her baby... oke!
Let's we make a LOVELY BABY... Hong Kong-People... I want to see u more smile on u face... with a baby... not a mad on u face, what I now saw in HK... looking for lover, and not for money, status, label dress or safe life... etc..., a baby don't know this, he need and feels only love if u can give him... oke lady... use u mind before u beginning, if u cannot make this job... !!!
Freedom speak...
L.L.
I was forget to say, u must cook u porridge with milk, not water, and eat this 10 mount long, until the baby been born, 10 mount long healthy food, fresh press orange... can u do it LADY... u give u own life up for u a healthy baby! no smoke/alcohol/sex/work... etc... hihihi...
u can do another way for sex/ fitness ... hihihi... challenge yourself... <3 <3 <3
johnyuan
Your comments are more seductively entertaining than enlightening. You may single handily turn SCMP quickly into a tabloid newspaper. So I encourage you to publish a book so at least I know why I subscribe and read SCMP without your comments. I may go and get your book.
sipsip1238
Baby bonuses has worked to some effect to soften the problems associated with a diminishing population, but such mechanisms really need to be paired with other policies in order to really troubleshoot the issue.
I'm sure there will be parents (let's leave the issue of whether those people who can be encouraged to have children just for a measly sum should have children or not) will take advantage of such measures, but there also needs to be a more structured immigration policy whereby we encourage more professionals to want to migrate to Hong Kong. The current policy has seen a huge influx of mainland immigrants, but sadly, the same immigrates are probably not providing the appropriate contribution.
What Singapore has clearly demonstrated over the years and decades is that their leadership is willing to look generations ahead when making policies and plan for what's good for Singaporeans. While Hong Kong's leaders are too focused on what China wants, when in fact, China doesn't really give a damn about what's good for Hong Kong.
KwunTongBypass
How about introducing 'Making Babies: Theory and Practice' into the National Education curriculum?

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