HCM City deals with low fertility rate

April 15, 2023 - 08:27
The economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last three years has made many couples afraid of having children.
HCM City is currently one of the 21 provinces and cities with the lowest fertility rate in the country. VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — Nguyễn Thanh Phúc, 28, living in District 3, HCM City, has been married for more than two years but still doesn't want to have a baby.

"My wife and I left our hometown to go to HCM City to work. We plan to have a baby in a few years after we save money and buy a house. Economic pressure will affect our lives if we give birth now," Phúc told Người Lao Động (The Labourer) newspaper.

The economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last three years has also made couples concerned about having children.

Like Phúc, Hoàng Văn Tình, 34, from Thủ Đức City, said his job is unstable and his salary has also decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the price of everything is increasing, putting him off having more children.

"Economic instability will affect the stability of a marriage. Especially, raising a child is not easy. We have to take turns staying at home to take care of our children if they get sick. My wife and I also want to have more babies, but at the moment we are not doing okay financially," Tình said.

Many young women working in HCM City are also afraid to get married and have children because they want to advance their careers or worry about the hardships of raising children.

A 30-year-old woman living in District 3, Nguyễn Thị Ly, said: "When I decide to get married, I think it is necessary to have a stable income, especially when I have children. The income must be enough to ensure the best for my children."

Nguyễn Doãn Tú, director general of the General Department of Population and Family Planning under the Ministry of Health, said the trend in delayed childbearing is one of the reasons behind the low fertility rate in HCM City, which lags the country's replacement fertility rate.

Statistics from the HCM City's Department of Population and Family Planning showed that the city's fertility rate is 1.39 children per woman of reproductive age.

The city had a fertility rate of 1.35 in 2017, but by 2021, it reached a rate of 1.48 children per mother.

HCM City is currently one of the 21 provinces and cities with the lowest fertility rate in the country, along with Đồng Tháp, Hậu Giang, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Bình Dương, Khánh Hòa, Long An, Bạc Liêu, Tây Ninh, Sóc Trăng, Cà Mau, Đồng Nai, Bình Thuận, Tiền Giang, Cần Thơ, Vĩnh Long, An Giang, Bến Tre, Đà Nẵng, Quảng Ngãi and Kiên Giang.

The director of the Division of Population and Family Planning, Phạm Chánh Trung, said the low fertility will strongly affect the city's population structure in the future.

It means the proportion of young people and people of working age is decreasing, while the proportion of elderly people is increasing.

"Low fertility will lead to many consequences, making the pace of population aging accelerate, causing labour shortages and affecting social security," said Trung.

Solutions to boost childbirth

According to Trung, young Vietnamese women tend to get married later, with some wanting to be single mothers. Additionally, there are more and more people who have good finances and can take care of children but are afraid to have babies.

Meanwhile, for people in difficult financial conditions, having a baby is added pressure.

"The biggest challenge is how to create the best living environment for couples to give birth and raise children with peace of mind."

He said the population sector has faced many difficulties in implementing birth promotion measures.

It must be associated with policies, the needs and economic conditions of the people, as well as the support of the whole society for the care of children.

"The population industry is promoting communication about low fertility and its consequences, so that people can better understand the problem. At the same time, we also organise workshops and talks with the participation of many experts and speakers to exchange and share experiences, and to seek solutions to raise the birth rate."

Although the fertility rate is still low compared to the whole country, the average fertility rate of HCM City tended to increase slightly in recent years, from 1.35 in 2017 to 1.39 in 2022.

The city's health sector is developing a draft proposal on population policies to 2030, including solutions for providing financial support for couples with two children, hospital fees, and the cost of pre-marital health check-ups.

This draft policy is expected to be submitted to the city People's Council at the mid-2023 meeting.

In the long term, it is necessary to improve the healthcare system, education, tuition fee exemption and reduction, personal income tax exemption, and adjustment of maternity policy.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Việt Nam will surpass 100 million people in April, and Việt Nam will become the 15th most populous country in the world.

Việt Nam currently has the highest proportion of young people in the country’s history with 21.1 per cent of the total population aged between 10 and 24.

Việt Nam’s unique demographic window of opportunities is still open until 2039 with the presence of such young and productive population groups, and the demographic bonus can be tapped into to accelerate the country’s socio-economic growth.

But with fertility decline and limitation over the past decades, Việt Nam’s population is aging fast.

Việt Nam is expected to become an aged country by 2036 when the number of people aged 65 and above will reach 15.5 million, accounting for more than 14 per cent of the total population.

Also, given son preference, which is still prevalent in Việt Nam’s society, coupled with fertility decline and limitation and availability of technology, prenatal sex selection is common, and 47,000 girls are estimated to be missing every year.

It is projected that by 2034, Việt Nam will have an excess of 1.5 million men aged 15-49, and the number will reach 2.5 million by 2059. — VNS