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  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 5:30am
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

Giwaffe
mercedes2233: I believe so. Voluntarily, of course.
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.
Giwaffe
System error resulting in duplicated post, please delete.
Giwaffe
System error resulting in duplicated post, please delete.
maecheung
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.
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.

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