'I won't have a baby for HK$20,000' - RTHK
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'I won't have a baby for HK$20,000'

2023-10-25 HKT 17:17
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  • Have a baby and the government will give you HK$20,000. File image: Shutterstock
    Have a baby and the government will give you HK$20,000. File image: Shutterstock
Women RTHK spoke to on Wednesday said a government offer of HK$20,000 won't be enough to persuade them to have children.

The subsidy was announced in the chief executive's Policy Address, along with other proposals to promote births, including an additional housing tax deduction.

"If it’s only HK$20,000, it is honestly not that helpful," said a woman who already has a one-year old.

"To prepare for the arrival of a child, you need to buy a lot of baby goods, so HK$20,000 would disappear in a blink of an eye. Even a baby bed or carriage is already over HK$3,000, so HK$20,000 won’t help too much," she told RTHK.

Finance worker Fiona, meanwhile, said she and her partner wouldn't be swayed by HK$20,000 when deciding whether or not to have a kid.

"Of course from a financial burden perspective it'll be helpful, but it won't be a deciding factor whether I'll have a baby or not. Because, ultimately, I don't think that this amount would be significant to cover the expenses for taking care of my child," she said.

In a press conference after the Policy Address, Chief Executive John Lee highlighted the need for the government to act to reverse a downtrend trend in the city's birth rate.

"Over the years, we do not have any major policies to boost fertility. Also, we're seeing an ageing population," Lee said.

"We want to help families who really want to have children, regardless of how much cash we offer to people. It still shows that the government is willing to offer support to people who would like to give birth."

University of Hong Kong scholar Paul Yip said the government's new childbirth policies are a good start, but the incentives will probably only slow the city's falling birth rate, rather than raise it.

The chair professor of population health said giving new parents more leave would be another way to provide a boost.

"[It is worthwhile to consider] giving one year to the mum and one or two months to the dad, and [letting them] use the leave interchangeably and flexibly. Actually, that is what has been practised in the Nordic countries," he said.

Under the law, new mothers in Hong Kong are entitled to 14 weeks of paid leave, while dads get five days. In Sweden, meanwhile, parents can share 480 days between them.

Yip also said the 900 extra daycare places the government will provide over the next few years is a good start, but won't be enough – given that there are more than 30,000 births annually.

He added that another way to get couples to have children would be to make the city's education system less exam-orientated.
Last updated: 2023-10-25 HKT 18:19

'I won't have a baby for HK$20,000'