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  • Jul 24, 2014
  • Updated: 8:58am
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."

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37

This article is now closed to comments

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.
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.
OldPeak Toad
Great Idea. Why don't you discuss the "culling criteria" with your granddad and report back. Alles Gut mein Führer!
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.
scmpgt
HK is probably 2 generations away from completely losing its identity. Having more kids will not change that.
johnyuan
It is a reasonable fact. But we still must not let Hong Kong environmentally further deteriorate by destroying countryside and urban area. It is to no interest to anyone even to China to get a broken Hong Kong except to those locals who plan to take flight after profit is extracted.
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.
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.
mercedes2233
You mean for seniors to die?

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