• Thu
  • Jul 10, 2014
  • Updated: 9:57pm
NewsHong Kong

Almost half of Hong Kong parents 'do not have a second baby due to lack of childcare'

Nine in ten parents polled want second child, but most say poor services hold them back

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 February, 2014, 4:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 3:33am

Nine out of 10 parents say they would like to have more than one child but half choose not to do so, citing a lack of quality childcare as the main obstacle, a survey has found.

Eighty per cent of 3,655 parents interviewed by the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children said difficulty finding suitable daytime care influenced their decision about whether to have another child.

The parents filled in questionnaires handed out by the society at 53 nurseries and kindergartens across the city in the last two months.

Whether a care centre was safe, close to home and employed carers with relevant professional qualifications were among the top concerns, with over 70 per cent citing these reasons for not having another child.

A medical practitioner who gave his surname as Wai said he and his wife had no plans for another child because he could not be assured of adequate professional childcare services.

"By professional, we mean, for example, the nursery staff need to know how to store and feed breast milk to children properly," he said.

He said while the overall quality of the services provided at the daytime care centre he used was satisfactory, the 11 months they had to wait for a subsidised place there was too long and the carer-to-children ratio needed a boost.

He added that he and his wife worked full-time and their past experience had shown they could not rely on a domestic helper to take care of their child.

The society's director, Susan So Suk-yin, said subsidised professional daytime nurseries for children under the age of two had places for only about 1,000 children last year. But the 2011 census showed there were 100,000 children of that age in the city.

She said the subsidised places accounted for more than 90 per cent of the total number.

The uneven distribution of such centres was also a problem, So said. Tai Po and districts on outlying islands had no subsidised nursery places available, and even in Wan Chai, with the lowest ratio of young children to nursery places, 49 children competed for one spot.

She called on the government to boost spending on care and education for children aged six or under, from the current 0.14 per cent of gross domestic product to 0.7 per cent. She said this would put the city on par with the 0.69 per cent spent in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. It could then be gradually raised to the 1 per cent level recommended by the European Union.


More on this story

For unlimited access to:

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



This article is now closed to comments

Maybe the solution is to ban all the Filipina helpers as some foolish member of LEGCO suggested. Then most Hong Kongers would have zero children and then the government would not have to worry about providing better services. Wow, a "win-win" solution!
I agree with the article that most people don't have second child because of lack of Child care in the city 9many people don't even have 1 for that reason). When we had our child born we went through that whole foreign Domestic Helper thing for 3 years and found it painful. If there had been daycare etc.. available readily in Hong Kong I am pretty sure we would have had a second.
Most parents are worried about the first 8 years and in Hong Kong the support within the society / government is just not there. There is no ability to drop a child of at 8 am and pick them up at 6 PM in Hong Kong. If there were it would be very popular.
However high rents just don't make that type of business profitable. And abundant Foreign Domestic helpers also ruin the demand (even though most people with FDHs from my experience are miserable with the arrangement).
It starts with day care, then kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, upper secondary school, university and then finding a job, looking for a spouse and saving for a down payment for an apartment. It is all a matter of queuing and $$$$$$$$$. Very frightening indeed. And all assuming the child progressing thru life smoothly.
PS. Did I mention tuitions, music lessons, and sports activities which all cost $$$$$$$$$$$? Also all the airfares if the child is studying overseas.
And....buying debentures if you are looking to put your child thru an international school.
If that is not enough to put you off, I don't know what will.
Well maybe if the society change its way of thinking and stop all these "international" school and fancy children "portfolio". Then maybe there will be way for those "real" nursery.
Nursery is for having an eye on your child not building a 5 stars portfolio child.
totally agree, did not have the second one for this reason
Wasn't it because some Chinese woman said it takes 4 mill HK to raise a kid (and that was a while ago too, wonder what it is now post inflation).
Just another thing the govt forgot to think about. If there are so many errors in almost everything, esp in a small place like HK, one wonders what govts are good for.


SCMP.com Account