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Hong Kongners find it too costly to have 3 children
(China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2005-03-04 11:08

Chan Tai-ying, father of a nine-month-old baby girl, said having one child has already strained him financially.

The baby is costing him and his wife about HK$8,000 a month now. But the spending on food and clothes is negligible compared with the huge education budget Chan has in mind for his little princess.

"I am worried that HK education quality is not competitive enough compared with the developed economies. I think I will arrange for my child to study abroad," he said.

The 43-year-old man said before the daughter was born that he and his wife had already decided that they will only have one child.

"One is already enough and we have no plan to have more children. I am getting older, I can't guarantee that I am still capable of raising my child 20 years later. It is a huge task to have children in Hong Kong," he said.

Like Chan, many Hong Kong couples do not want to have more children due to financial burden.

In a survey conducted by Health Link Promotions, less than 7 per cent of the 624 mothers polled said they wanted to have three children, as advocated by Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang.

In a phone-in radio show last week, Tsang said a Hong Kong couple should have three children to sustain population growth and ease problems of an ageing society.

The mothers said that their biggest worries are the financial burden to raise the children and their education.

They said the government does not offer incentives for them to have more children.

About 80 per cent said they believed the government should provide education and medical allowances for their children.

"Couples are highly concerned about the education system and prospects of our city when they make the decision to have children," said Maggie Ng, who organized the survey.

She also pointed out that the government lacks support measures to cater to special needs of expectant mothers in their mid-thirties.

The Census and Statistics figures showed the number of births in Hong Kong has fallen from 63,300 in 1996 to 47,900 last year. The fertility rate of Hong Kong women was already the lowest in the world at 0.94 per woman of child-bearing age in 2003, while the population replacement level requires 2.1 children.

The government estimated that a quarter of Hong Kong's population would be aged 65 or over by 2031.

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