• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 4:14pm
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: 16%
  • No: 84%
15 Oct 2013
  • Yes
  • No
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."

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

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.
Achillvdb
Whoever suggested this should really spend a day trying to get through the weekend hordes in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok (and anywhere else in HK for that matter). Instead of giving families bonuses perhaps we could organise a grand culling each year. That will solve the problem of the ageing population.
mcheung
Good idea to give parents more time for child caring with laws to limit working hours. Not a good idea to give cash subsidy which will just lead to abuse by some parents as a form of welfare, and "child poverty". Improve the education system by banning the so called "banding" of schools, so that children would have equal access to quality education, and there won't be long queues for admission in some schools.
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.
mercedes2233
How much of a baby bonus can encourage a lifelong financial and other commitment to a child?
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/
KwunTongBypass
How about introducing 'Making Babies: Theory and Practice' into the National Education curriculum?
likingming
HK is a place to make money or be made money. Not even a place to live and the least to deliver births.
impala
Even if you believe that measures like this will boost the birth rate (remains to be seen), it will be much too little too late.

Apart from housing and education being the real bottlenecks here, this should have been addressed 15-20 years ago if we want to make a dent in the dependency ratio when it peaks in the 2030s~2040s.
Giwaffe
@ianson: Spot on and really a great idea.

Financial incentives for seniors to take their leave would probably make a nice dent to the issue of aging population.

As I walk around Hong Kong, I pass by many elderly people. The looks on their faces really make me wonder how many would choose to leave if the option were available.

Pages

Login

SCMP.com Account

or