Saturday , July 13 2024

HCMC’s dropping birth rate continues to fall

Women of childbearing age in Ho Chi Minh City are continuing to have fewer children, leaving authorities struggling to counter a rapidly aging population, labor shortages, and long-term socio-economic impacts.

They now have an average of 1.32 children, down from 1.42 last year.

A representative of the city’s Department of Health said Monday that with this birth rate, the city continues to be one of the 21 cities and provinces with the lowest birthrates in Vietnam. The figure comes out of a total 63 provinces and cities.

This prolonged situation could cause rapid population aging, labor shortages, and negative impacts on the state social welfare system as the city continues to develop economically with a high urbanization rate, the representative said.

For nearly two decades, the birth rate in the city has fluctuated between 1.24 and 1.7, significantly lower than Vietnam’s replacement fertility rate of 2-2.1 children per woman.

Replacement level fertility is the level of fertility at which a population replaces itself equally from one generation to the next. In developed countries, replacement-level fertility can be taken as requiring an average of 2.1 children per woman.

Having two children has become a “desperate goal” for the city’s population managers, unlike in many other localities where people are encouraged to “stop at two children to raise them well.”

Experts attribute the low birth rate to various reasons: work pressure, economic burdens, high cost of living, expensive child-rearing costs, and the need for personal time. Some women fear losing their jobs or career advancement opportunities if they have children, as they may not be able to provide the best care for their kids.

Additionally, officials noted that HCMC is also entering a phase of population aging, with over 1.1 million people aged 60 and above (accounting for 12.5%). Last year, this figure was 11%, and it was less than 10% in previous years, indicating a rapidly progressing trend.

The causes of this situation are low birth and death rates, coupled with higher average life expectancy.

Population aging increasingly pressures the social welfare system for the elderly claiming pensions, health insurance, social benefits, healthcare, and funds for recreational activities, experts have said.

Overall, low birth rates and population aging directly affect the “population size,” reducing the labor force, especially young workers, which has long-term impacts on socio-economic development, according to the Department of Health representative.

In response to this situation, HCMC population authorities have started with fundamental activities such as communication via seminars and discussions with the participation of many experts in order to convey messages about low birth rates and their consequences, and to seek solutions.

The Population and Family Planning Division has proposed recommendations to the Department of Health in the Draft Policy on Population in Ho Chi Minh City through 2030 for submission to the People’s Council. These solutions focus on supporting social housing purchases for couples with two children, assisting with medical expenses (co-payment costs, besides those covered by health insurance) for couples having a second child, and subsidizing pre-marital health check-up costs.

Moreover, cooperation from various departments is needed to improve the healthcare and education system, reduce or waive tuition fees, change the form and duration of daycare services, reduce personal income tax, and adjust maternity leave policies.

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