Just over half of young Hong Kong adults aged 18-27 want to have children, an NGO study has found.

According to the Family Planning Association’s Youth Sexuality Study conducted last year, the ratio of young adults who want children has declined significantly over the past decade – from 71 per cent for both sexes in 2006 to 57 per cent for women and 54 for men in 2016.

students school kids
File photo: GovHK.

Hong Kong has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The Census and Statistics Department recorded 8.3 births per 1,000 people last year.

14 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men told the Family Planning Association they would not have children, while 28 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men said they have not yet decided.

The responses of young adults contrast with those of both male and female students from Form Three to Form Six, over 70 per cent of which said they want to have children.

Over 1,200 young adults and almost 3,000 secondary school students were interviewed by the NGO.

‘Highly competitive society’

Both men and women gave various reasons as to why they did not want to have children, including: insufficient finances, a poor social environment, disinterest, and the enjoyment of a freer lifestyle without children.

family planning association hong kong
Family Planning Association. File photo: HenZeo via Wikimedia Commons.

“While secondary school students still have a largely positive outlook on future marriage and childbearing, 18-27 year olds are increasingly unsure or ambivalent about these matters,” said the Family Planning Association’s executive director Susan Fan in a Monday press release.

“Their confidence in future family formation may be influenced by their perceived socioeconomic status in our highly competitive society.”

On average, each young woman interviewed by the NGO wanted to have 1.33 children, while each young man wanted 1.37. In 2006, the figure was 1.5 for women, and 1.6 for men.

Overall, women said their ideal age to have their first child was 28 – three years younger than the actual median age in Hong Kong.

Increasing LGBT acceptance

The Family Planning Association’s survey also suggested that acceptance of LGBT people is steadily increasing among young Hongkongers.

hong kong gay lgbt
File photo: HKFP.

Around 60 per cent of females and 40 per cent of males – both secondary students and young adults – told the NGO last year that they accepted homosexuality. In 2011, the figure was around 40-50 per cent for female interviewees, and 30-40 per cent for male interviewees.

Secondary school students were also more likely than 18-27 year olds to accept bisexual and transgender people.

“A non-stigmatising and age-appropriate approach [to sex education] tailored to the needs and interests of adolescents is recommended,” said Fan.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.