Hong Kong is desperate to improve its record-low fertility rate
Ric Edelman: It's Monday, November 13th. Are you thinking of having a baby? You might want to consider moving to Hong Kong. There are so few women having babies there. The government in Hong Kong is now paying women to have kids $2,500. Plus, you get first in line for government subsidized housing. Can't have kids? Then the government will get you access to in vitro fertilization. Hong Kong has a big problem and they know it. The fertility rate in Hong Kong is the lowest in the world, just 0.8 children per woman. Scientists say that women need to have 2.1 babies to keep the population stable.
Very few countries in the world are meeting that level anymore. We're at 2.0 here in the US. Most of Europe is down to around 1.5. China's fertility rate has dropped so sharply in the past few years that their population has actually declined in the last year for the first time in decades. And Japan has a birth rate at a 16-year low during the pandemic. South Korea's got a similar problem. They, too, are offering cash to women to have a baby. Nobody thinks their payments or Hong Kong's new payments are going to solve these problems. 43% of women in Hong Kong don't have children, and almost half of them say that. The reason is that the city isn't suitable for child development. There are now 18% fewer kids in kindergarten than there were in 2019. And it's not just the women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who don't want kids. Increasingly, their parents don't want them to have kids either.
In China, grandmothers traditionally help raise the babies. But now grannies are revolting. In one province, a grandmother sued her daughter and son-in-law for unpaid childcare fees, and the court ruled in her favor. The kids had to pay grandma $11,000. That's led to a bunch of similar lawsuits all over China. Will that be the next thing they export? Will American grandparents start suing their kids who ask them to be babysitters?
We all know the cost of raising children. It's now $250,000, according to the federal government. And the impact on your lifestyle is just as huge, and apparently the impact on the grandparents lifestyle as well. What does this mean for the future fabric of our society, and for the family tree in your own family? Will you get grandchildren? How many and how old will you be when you do? And will you help to raise them? Will you help to pay for their education? These are changes as fundamental as it gets and it represents future issues we're all going to have to grapple with.