Kramer: They’re prisons! Man-made prisons. You’re doing time! You get up in the morning, she’s there. You go to sleep at night, she’s there. It’s like you gotta ask permission to use the bathroom. (pleading voice) “Is it all right if I use the bathroom now?”
Kramer: Yeah, and you can forget about watching TV while you’re eating.
Jerry: I can?
Kramer: Oh, yeah! You know why? Because it’s dinner time. And you know what you do at dinner?
Kramer: You talk about your day! “How was your day today? Did you have a good day today or a bad day today? Well, what kind of day was it? I don’t know, how ’bout you, how was your day?”
- lines from Seinfeld episode “The Engagement” between Jerry and Kramer about marriage, family, and what’s more to life.
Hong Kong’s young adults are less interested in raising a family, according to the Family Planning Association’s Youth Sexuality Study. The study showed that almost half of the city’s young adults interviewed — 1,223 of them between 18 to 27 — seem to agree with Kramer’s way of thinking. The study, which is conducted once every five years, indicated that more male (45 per cent) than female (39 per cent) respondents were either unsure or made a firm decision not to have children.
In the Philippines, we often think of family planning as proper spacing between child births or having fewer children, but many young adults in Hong Kong took it to the extreme and prefer not to have children. This survey result is likely going to fuel fears of a rapidly aging population. The Federation of Hong Kong Industries projects that there will only be 993 childbirths per 1,000 women in 2023 compared to 1,722 in 1983 and 1,342 in 1993. As more workers become too old to stay in the working population and not enough replacements to take over their place, Hong Kong’s future is in trouble. For example, the government needs to allocate bigger budgets for retirees such as healthcare, welfare pensions, and other services. On the other hand, fewer workers mean less productivity and subsequently fewer taxpayers who will contribute to government revenues.
Among those who wish to have kids, the ideal number is between one and two children, which will barely replace the city’s aging population, according to Professor Paul Yip, chairman of the association’s research subcommitee.
The hesitation showed by the young adults have legitimate reasons. Society doesn’t offer a lot of family-friendly environment. Many young couples who wish to buy (or rent) homes may be put off by very expensive flats in the private housing market. Applying for public housing takes ages to materialize, if it ever does. Working hours can be very brutal — in a conference call I had yesterday with an agency partner, one of them lamented at staying at work until 2 in the morning. Such signs point to low interest in building a family. Heck, how can an overworked office worker with not enough time to socialize expect to find a suitable partner?
So don’t be surprised if couples still continue to buy strollers, not for babies but for puppies or cats whom they treat as family members. Fewer kids could mean fewer enrollments in pre-school or waning demand for nannies. Will less interest in marriage may impact banquet restaurants or wedding photographers? Time will tell.