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Macau’s youth not interested in marriage, childbirth: survey

Finance, compatibility with partners, and individual outlook are cited as reasons
Musicians attend a competition in Macau on Oct. 6, 2023. Income levels have affected youth’s attitudes toward marriage and childbirth in the autonomous region on the south coast of China.

Young musicians take part in a competition in Macau on Oct. 6, 2023. Income levels have affected youth’s attitudes toward marriage and childbirth in the autonomous region on the south coast of China. (Photo: AFP)

 

Published: June 10, 2024 06:59 AM GMT
Updated: June 10, 2024 09:15 AM GMT

Nearly half of young residents surveyed in Macau between the ages of 18 and 34 say they have no plans to get married within five years.

The Women’s General Association of Macau released the results of the survey on young residents’ attitudes towards marriage and childbearing on June 6, the Macau Post Daily reported on June 7.

Wong Kit Cheng, a member of the women’s association, said that the survey organized in April this year collected responses from 925 respondents thus “analyzing their actual situation and their views on marriage and childbearing.”

According to the survey, the three major factors affecting the youth’s decision to marry were financial considerations (49 percent), compatibility with their partners (25 percent), and the individual outlook towards marriage and career (19 percent).

The survey analyzed how the income levels of the youth affect their attitude toward marriage and childbirth.

The survey revealed that 68 percent of the individuals earning above 40,000 Macanese patacas (US$4,982) and 55 percent of those earning below 11,999 Macanese patacas “were less determined to get married.”

Meanwhile, 38 percent of respondents between the income group of 20,000 to 39,999 Macanese patacas said that they were more determined to get married.

“High-income and low-income respondents showed a relatively low desire to get married, while the middle-income respondents showed a higher desire to tie the knot,” Wong said.

Wong said that the survey indicated a “change in the concept,” of marriage and childbearing among the youth.

Wong warned that this change in attitude may “further aggravate the decline in Macau’s marriage and childbearing rate in the future,” resulting in a negative impact on the sustainable development of civil society.

The survey, which was the third of its kind conducted by the women’s association, also measured the average fertility intentions, which indicates a person’s desire to have children and pursue childbirth.

The average individual fertility intention this year was reported at 4.76 on a scale of 10. Previous surveys indicated that the fertility intention was at 6.33 in 2022, and 4.35 in 2019.

The fertility intentions score based on age groups indicated that as the age decreased the desire to marry and have children also decreased.

The number of live births in 2023 showed a sharp decline of 14.5 percent year-on-year to 3,712 births, the Macau government’s Statistics and Census Service said.

Macau’s population had shown a negligible increase of 0.1 percent at the end of 2023 with 571,200 residents.

The survey also analysed the number of children the respondents were willing to have through a set of multiple-choice questions, the Macau Post Daily reported.

Close to 70 percent of the respondents with only one child said that they did not consider having any more children in the future, whereas only 20 percent said that they have plans to have another child or are already pregnant.

Among the respondents who had two children, 90 percent said they have “no desire to have three children.”

The survey also analyzed the various factors that affected the decision among youth to not have any more children.

Among the respondents, 75 percent cited “high childcare expenses,” as a reason to have no further children. This was followed by “insufficient living space,” at 73 percent and “busy work schedule and insufficient time to take care of them,” at 70 percent.

Meanwhile, childless couples cited “busy work schedule and insufficient time to take care of them,” “high childcare expenses,” and “the pressure and burden caused by the problems of child-rearing,” respectively as reasons for not having children.

Among the childless respondents, 56 percent said that having children would affect their private life or their “personal time,” while 50 percent said they considered parenthood a “big responsibility,” Wong said.

The respondents pointed out that financial support and family-friendly measures in addition to extending paid parental leave, improving assisted reproductive technology services, and subsidies for assisted reproduction could help in increasing childbirth and marriages.

Various sectors of the community needed to jointly consider ways to reverse or, at least, slow down the declining trend of the birth rate through a “combination of measures,” Wong said.

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