More daycare set as birth rate plunges

Local | Daphne Li 19 Aug 2019

More daycare services will be provided in development plans to help boost Hong Kong's birth rate, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong wrote in his blog.

Law said the birth rate in the SAR remains in the doldrums and daycare services for young children can play a major role in boosting it.

"Our goal is to reduce the barriers to having more children and make more people consider that a viable option," he wrote. "This move can also increase women's participation in the workforce."

Citing figures from the Census and Statistics Department, Law said there were only 53,700 babies born last year, a 5 percent decrease from 2017.

The fall in the number of newborns also continued the downward trend the city has been experiencing.

He said the quota for aided independent daycare services for children under the age of three dropped from a peak of 1,530 in the mid-1990s to 747 last year.

Law said the service quota is insufficient, especially for children below the age of two, which has sparked a series of policies to help resolve the issue.

Law said the government, in the long run, will set a demographic ratio and input the figures into the Hong Kong Planning Standard and Guidelines, which is a manual applied in planning studies, and the preparation or revision of town plans and development control, to reserve locations for child-care service centers.

The Social Welfare Department has planned to provide more funding for an extra 400 places at child-care service centers.

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