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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 10:15 GMT
HK promotes 'three child policy'
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Hong Kong

Child in Hong Kong (5/2/05)
Persuading couples with two children to have a third will be the test
A senior official in Hong Kong has told couples they should consider having three children to try to stem the territory's falling birth rate.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang made the remarks in a radio interview.

The government hinted it is considering measures including tax incentives to try to encourage couples to reproduce.

Hong Kong has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and a rapidly aging population. The average married couple has two children.

The chief secretary is now telling them they should have three.

It is remarkable that in this tiny corner of the world's most populous nation, moreover one that promotes a one child policy in other areas to try to stem further population growth, Hong Kong is trying to encourage its citizens to have more children.

The problem is the low birth rate. Already one of the lowest in the world, reports suggest the latest figure - due to be published in the next two months - will be 0.8 births for every woman of childbearing age.

What does that mean in practice? Well, if current trends continue, a quarter of Hong Kong's population will be 65 or over by 2031.

To make the problem worse, fewer immigrants are coming from mainland China.

The government has already suggested that tax incentives might be the answer, but experts say it is hard to persuade people with two children to have a third.

Instead, encouragement should be given to childless couples to take the plunge and become parents.


SEE ALSO:
China fears bachelor future
05 Apr 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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