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Childless couples rise amid population dip in Hong Kong

Chinese-ruled territory recorded world’s lowest fertility rate in April, the United Nations Population Fund reported
Professor Paul Yip (middle), Dr. Mona Lam (right) and Sun Chan (left) are seen during the release of the 'Family Planning Knowledge, Attitude and Practice in Hong Kong Survey' 2022 on Aug. 15

Professor Paul Yip (middle), Dr. Mona Lam (right) and Sun Chan (left) are seen during the release of the 'Family Planning Knowledge, Attitude and Practice in Hong Kong Survey' 2022 on Aug. 15. (Photo: The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong)

Published: August 17, 2023 03:03 AM GMT
Updated: August 17, 2023 06:18 AM GMT

A charity organization has called for enhanced fertility-related services and policies after a recent survey found the number of childless couples doubled in the Chinese-ruled city in the past five years, says a report.

Some 43.2 percent of a total of 1,502 women surveyed by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) had no children, up from 20.6 percent in 2017, Hong Kong Free Press reported Aug. 16.

The surveyed women, aged 15 to 49, were either married or living with their partners between September to December 2022. Their spouses have also been surveyed.

The number of women with one child decreased from 38.3 percent to 27.4 percent, it found.

The fertility rate, the average number of children per woman, plunged to a record low of 0.9.

Public health experts consider 2.1 as the replacement level of fertility.

The FPAHK released the survey during a press conference on Aug. 15 and called for “enhanced fertility-related services and policies” to tackle the demographic decline. The group has conducted five-yearly “Family Planning Knowledge, Attitude and Practice in Hong Kong Surveys” since 1967.

The association said that “significantly higher proportions of women” supported various public policies and financial incentives to encourage births in 2022 compared to in 2017.

“Regarding possible public policies to encourage childbirth, more women in this survey compared with five years earlier suggested various financial incentives, strengthened parental support from employers and society and improvement in the quality of education,” the association said.

Such support and assistance “might encourage them to have more children, particularly among women with only one child, followed by those without children,” the association said.

It pointed out that nearly half of the respondents (49.7 percent women; 46.5 percent men) regarded “two children” as ideal.

The survey also showed the trend of women desirous of having another child increased from 15.3 percent in 2017 to 22 percent in 2022.

The survey also touched on the various reasons for deciding to have only one child.

“Attained ideal parity [number of children]” was a major reason quoted by single-child families followed by “heavy responsibilities” and “dislike [of] children.”

For childless couples, the reasons were in reverse order with a majority of them expressing their “dislike [of] children” followed by “heavy responsibilities,” and “attained ideal parity [number of children].”

The association also voiced its alarm on the practice of illegal abortion or self-induced abortions.

Around 5 percent of women had opted for illegal abortion in Hong Kong or purchased drugs for self-induced abortion.

The remaining 61.2 percent of women had an abortion performed legally at the association facility or hospitals in Hong Kong and 29.8 percent of them underwent the procedure in Mainland China.

The survey indicated a steady decline in abortion cases from 11.5 percent in 2017 to 8.3 percent in 2022.

Hong Kong recorded world’s lowest fertility rate in April this year, the United Nations Population Fund reported.

It also recorded 0.8 live births per woman in contrast to the global average of 2.3 live births per woman, the report stated.

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