Producing offspring is believed to be a duty of human beings. However, many young couples these days are choosing not to have children, especially in the cities like Hong Kong. It is not only due to the couples’ personal choice but it is greatly related to the economy, the change of social custom and the media.
Many young couples think that raising a child requires a stable income. For example, couples may think buying a flat is a curial consideration element. In a big city like Hong Kong, buying a flat is very difficult. A normal six hundred-feet-flat costs more than fire million dollars. As a result, many young couples who don’t earn much will not choose to have children. They are afraid that a poor material life will bring bad effects on children and also burden their living quality with huge parenting expenditure.
But why do young couples think this way? The media acts like a catalyst. No matter whether they are advertisement or TV programs, they are all promoting the idea of ‘providing the best to the children’. In an advertisement of a bank, Li Lai Shan said raising a child needs four million dollars. In the advertisement of milk powder, it states that children should win at the starting line, which means children need to develop both physically and mentally at an early age. In this atmosphere, raising a child is an extremely difficult task for young couples. Having a child is no longer a pleasant thing to do. Some couples may even keep a pet and treat it like their baby. At least keeping a dog is less stressful. Every parent wants their children to be the best. If they are not the best, they will suffer in a fiercely competitive society. Therefore, so many young couples choose not to have children.
Moreover, the social custom is totally different today. In the old days, giving birth to children was a ‘must’ for women since they needed to expand their family and increase the production force. They had no choice because of their family pressure. They were not allowed to work outside as they could only stay at home and take care of their children. Contrarily, today’s women can have their own career and dreams. Having a child is not the only choice. Women may not give up everything for the baby. Also, couples may choose freedom and romance instead of carrying the huge responsibility of having a child.
From my point of view, children are important labour force in the future for the city development. Hong Kong has nearly the lowest birth rate in the world. Our last Chief Executive Donald Tsang told couples to have three children. Low birth rate can bring about the aging problem and the increase in medical expenses. These factors are all detrimental to our city’s stability.
I respect the choice of the couples and I can understand their worries. But encouraging couples to have children and maintain a stable labour supply is one of the responsibilities of the government too. The government should increase tax allowance and increase the quality and quantity of education in order to increase the birth rate.