• Tue
  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 1:55pm
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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15 Oct 2013
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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

lamlm38
yeah right.. good luck with this.. it failed miserably for singapore and other countries.. :)
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** =)
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.
oasis
Kids really do benefit from having one parent at home. The economic cost of that far outweighs any onetime $x,000 payment.
If the steering committee is only able to recommend small marginal changes, its a waste of time. In fact less kind words could be used to describe them.
Giwaffe
Agreed. It was implied by point 3, but could have been more clear.

If a couple is to have a child, then either the mother or father should be directly responsible for bringing up the child instead of relying on other people. Relying on other people, especially domestic helpers, is irresponsible to a degree.
daily
Cash handouts would do nothing............HK women are not gonna give more births because of this.......there's too many of them that can't even get husbands or boyfriends so how can they even think of having children..........hahahahaha........
sipsip1238
I don't want to be an advocate for Hong Kong women because I know there are some pretty terrible women out there, and the media does not skip a chance to show it when incidents arise.
But if you're a man, you've just shown why it's even harder for women to find men in Hong Kong who treats them well instead of viewing them like ****.
And if you're a women, then you're just re-enforcing your comment why women can't get men because you think you're better than everyone.
rvto
Giving an one time cash bonus will not make any different, see the results in Singapore.
If they like spent money better is a system which will grant a monthly cash allowance to care takers of all resident children from 0 to 16 or 18, as long they not working. And free education and medical care. It will tackle also the poverty problem.
khannea.suntzu
This measure proposes slavery. It is saying to prospective parents - give us babies so we can tax them heavily to pay for a surplus of old people.
Guess what? Even if HK authorities would be successful, 20 years from now kids would feel the odds better to get the hell out of Hong Kong and dodge high tax rates. The government will face some painful choices. I am sure this will end up with old people dying prematurely.

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