February 22, 2005

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Hong Kong's next Chief Executive, Donald Tsan, wants each family to have at least three children to deal with declining birth rates and an aging population. To encourage this the Government is considerng bigger tax allowances for children. HK has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world with only 0.9 births per woman. Unfortunately for the Government financial incentives have not improved birth rates in any country. Singapore has extensive and generous benefits and incentives which have done nothing to stop the falling birth rate there.

There is an easy answer to the problem: increased immigration of young people. It's cheaper for the Government and better for the economy. There are plenty of Mainlanders and others desperate to come and live in HK, prepared to work hard and procreate. If declining and aging population is such a worry immigration is the answer, not financial incentives. Mr. Tsang should learn the old lawyer trick: don't ask questions if you don't want to know the answer.

Update 1: Maybe HK could look at importing husbands?

Update 2 (18:22)*: David Webb has used HK's freedom from of information code to obtain more about this plan. He notes the irony that the same Government that in 1999 desperately overruled the Court of Final Appeal to trample on the right of abode and later moved to restrict births in HK by mainland women now finds it in this dilemma. Amongst the "Triple Trio's" plans:
* a 500% tax on condoms, with the proceeds to fund a new kind of bank.
* ovulation leave
* TV broadcasting to end at 10pm with one important exception. This is would have the added benefit of limiting Hong Kongers' exposure to inane Government advertising.
* Cigarettes sold with Viagra.
* Increased electricity prices for the Mid-Levels after 10pm to encourage lights out.
* A special oyster subsidy for the struggling members of the Hong Kong Club, to get the juices flowing.

Finally there's Hemlock:
“Donald Tsang is mentally diseased,” I inform the buxom civil servant. “The average family in Hong Kong lives in a 400 square foot apartment. Where the hell are they supposed to put three kids?” She puts down her chopsticks and looks away, lost in thought. Stupid lateral-thinking gwailo decimates visionary Government policy for breakfast. She was born in a 200 square foot public housing unit, she starts. “Yes, yes,” I interrupt. “Eight to a room, shared toilets and kitchen, school on the roof, everyone assembling plastic flowers all night, scholarship to Hong Kong U – the great Fragrant Harbour success story. Well done. Heard it before.” She nods. “It’s OK for us,” I go on. “We’re single and get lost in our 1,000 square foot Mid-Levels flats. Mr and Mrs average middle class have less than half that space for themselves, her shoes, his DVDs, a five-year-old who needs somewhere to do his homework. Where do two more brats go? In the cupboard under the kitchen sink? No! There’s an Indonesian girl who sleeps there.”
We all need to take a second and be thankful. Hong Kong's Government sometimes makes it too easy.

Update 4: (23/2 13:13) Fumier has a different way of tackling the aging population problem.

*I'm going to start adding the time of updates and if necessary the date as well.

posted by Simon on 02.22.05 at 09:43 AM in the


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Tracked: February 22, 2005 01:04 PM


Don't the lawyers say: "Never ask a question to which you do not already know the answer"?

Not that I would know.

posted by: fumier on 02.22.05 at 10:51 AM [permalink]

i thought the purpose of family planning was that you should have as many children as you can provide for.if you can't afford to send them all to school,then some of them will have to work early in life and miss out on education.

what is not in doubt is the physical ability to procreate.what is in doubt is the financial ability to raise three children adequately, especially for the middle-class on fixed income.a chinese newspaper articled pegged the cost at HK$6000 per month per child.

posted by: eswn on 02.22.05 at 12:41 PM [permalink]

The good news is, you're then an example citizen. Well done. On behalf of the HK Government, I thank you :)

And I also sit here wondering-I have heard to the space/estate cost issues regarding space in HK. Is this plan really being well thought-out?

posted by: Helen on 02.22.05 at 05:25 PM [permalink]

A corollary to the TV stoppage at 10pm:

All porn from 8pm to 10pm to help get people in the mood.

posted by: Jim on 02.22.05 at 09:34 PM [permalink]

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