• Sat
  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 5:07am
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
 

Poll

  • Yes: 15%
  • No: 85%
15 Oct 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 346

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."

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

37

This article is now closed to comments

toxxygen
Is this the most innovative thing they can come up with, throwing money at a problem? How about guaranteed paid maternity leave extended to 6-12months instead of the current minimum of 10 weeks? How about subsidized day care for working parents? Free preschool/kindergarten education? Reduced taxes for working parents or monthly subsidies like the Canadians? Also, they are heading in the right direction with the stamp duty rules for property transactions to keep prices down, but they can do more.
Giwaffe
Responsible couples tend to have children when they feel they are ready. Typically, this means:

1) they believe they are financially ready;
2) they believe they have sufficient living space;
3) they have a way to take care of the child (specifically, that either the mother or the father takes direct and personal responsibility for the upbringing of the child) while maintaining points 1) and 2) above.
4) they feel they are able to provide an environment that is good for a new child.

For many couples in Hong Kong, the above points are probably quite difficult to satisfy.

**edited at the behest of oasis’s comment below** =)
ianson
Wrong. The planet's no. 1 critical problem is over-population. It is irresponsible to encourage people to produce more children. Financial incentives for seniors to leave instead.
chuchu59
SCMP's survey does not go deep enough. A simple yes or no answer to a baby-bonus does not mean anything. It could be rephrased as 'What incentives do you believe the Government should give out to encourage people to have children. There should be several options to choose from otherwise its quite meaningless.
anson
Incentives to try and make bosses more family friendly are good.
Solution to address ageing population problem could include more migrants from the mainland. Horrible thought for the 'I am a Hong Konger Brigade', but then in the vast majority of cases their parents or grandparents came from the mainland. Those generations adapted to and forged the identity of Hong Kong. They were given the time to adapt and were not expected to be 'little Hong Kongers' from the moment they stepped across the border. So instead of restricting migration encourage it as in the past to attract the best and hungriest for success people from across the border. These people can then become Hong Kongers and help support us older people in the future.
johnyuan
Good news for Hong Kong. Not that it is the only way resolving aging problem by having a new generation, but it will force Hong Kong to fundamentally change its working condition for employees. Make laws to limit working hours and parents given time for child caring; the two most important components in caring a family for working parents. So get Hong Kong to become a modern city.
johnyuan
The SCMP today's poll shows a overwhelming percentage (84%) at this moment responsed no to 'Would a 'baby bonus' be enough to encourage you to have children in Hong Kong?' Most likely these potential parents are looking more than what government is contemplating in giving which hasn't include a bigger size flat to accommodate one more member. Education is another issue not cover but must also be much of concern.
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.
lamlm38
yeah right.. good luck with this.. it failed miserably for singapore and other countries.. :)
oasis
Add: Parents-to-be also consider whether their kids will have a chance at being as well of / or better off than them.
Given the average seems to be dual-earning parents w/ maids raising the kids, there are people who question the the point of working so hard only to have the child to bond w/ hired help and resent the parents for not being there when they grow up.

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or