Subject: population policy, child and family support, fertility

Recent fertility trend and parenting-friendly policies in Hong Kong

Figure 1 - Live births and total fertility rate in Hong Kong, 1980-2020

Figure 1 - Live births and total fertility rate in Hong Kong, 1980-2020

Source: Census and Statistics Department (2021a).

Pronatalist and parenting-friendly policies in Singapore

Figure 2 - Total fertility rates in Singapore and selected places, 1970-2020

Figure 2 - Total fertility rates in Singapore and selected places, 1970-2020

Note: (1)Latest figures up to 2019.
Sources: Department of Statistics Singapore (2021), Census and Statistics Department (2021a), Ministry of Labor (2021), Statistics Korea (2021), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2021) and World Bank (2021).

Concluding remarks

  • In view of the sustained fertility downtrend locally, there is continued advocacy to launch more measures to encourage childbirths in Hong Kong. While the active pronatalist measures in Singapore are acclaimed as the "most comprehensive" in Asia, its fertility rate is not particularly impressive when compared to its peers in Asia. Whereas some observers found that the Singaporean measures are not effective enough to reverse the decline in childbirths, there were others who countered that the Singaporean fertility rate could have been materially lower without the bolstering effect from such measures.

Prepared by Sunny LAM
Research Office
Information Services Division
Legislative Council Secretariat
4 August 2021


1.TFR is the average number of childbirths during the childbearing years (i.e. aged 15-49) of a woman. See Census and Statistics Department (2020a and 2021a).

2.Yip, P.S.F. (2014), Lui, C.W.L. (2019) and Youth I.D.E.A.S. (2018).

3.Census and Statistics Department (2020c).

4.Two Council Questions were raised in March and November 2017, followed by several debates on the "Employment (Amendment) Bill 2019" in July 2020, the Member's motion on setting up a "New Generation Fund" in May 2021 and the Chief Executive's Question Time in June 2021. See GovHK (2017a and 2017b).

5.United Nations Population Division (2015).

6.The ratio of these Chinese nationals-born babies in total live births increased substantially from 1.3% in 2001 to the peak at 37.4% in 2011, before easing to 0.5% in 2020. See Census and Statistics Department (2021b).

7.Census and Statistics Department (2021a) and World Bank (2021).

8.Census and Statistics Department (2020a and 2021c).

9.Kisi (2021).

10.Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre (2014).

11.Census and Statistics Department (2018).

12.Chen, M. and Yip, P.S.F. (2017) and Rindfuss, R.R. and Choe, M.K. (2015).

13.Census and Statistics Department (2020b and 2020c).

14.GovHK (2017b) and Chief Secretary for Administration's Office (2015).

15.Sum of aided standalone child care centres ("CCCs") and CCCs attached to kindergartens.

16.Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2019).

17.Leung, L.C. (2016).

18.Legislative Council Secretariat (2019).

19.GovHK (2017a), Assisted Reproductive Technology Unit (2021) and Centre of Assisted Reproduction and Embryology (2021).

20.ART treatments include artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization ("IVF"), frozen embryo transfer ("FET") and more. In Hong Kong, IVF could cost more than HK$100,000 per cycle in the private sector.

21.Yip, P.S.F. (2014), Lui, C.W.L. (2019) and Youth I.D.E.A.S. (2018).

22.Amongst these 55 places, 27 were from Europe (including France and Germany) and 18 were from Asia (including Singapore and Japan). See United Nations Population Fund (2019).

23.Jones, G.W. and Hamid, W. (2015).

24.Ministry of Social and Family Development (2021).

25.The maximum co-matching from Singaporean Government is set at S$3,000 (HK$17,460) for the first child, S$6,000 (HK$34,920) for the second child, rising up to S$9,000 (HK$52,380) for the third and fourth child, and S$15,000 (HK$87,300) for the fifth child and beyond.

26.PTR is set at S$10,000 (HK$58,200) for the second child and S$20,000 (HK$116,400) for the third child and beyond. See Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (2021a).

27.WMCR exempts 20% of the working mother's income for the second child and 25% for the third child and beyond. See Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (2021b).

28.Working fathers can share up to four weeks of maternity leave as shared parental leave upon consent. See Ministry of Manpower (2021b and 2021c).

29.Ministry of Manpower (2021a and 2021d).

30.For those families with monthly income below the threshold (S$12,000 or HK$69,840), they are granted additional subsidy subject to a maximum of S$710 (HK$4,130) per month. See Government of Singapore (2020b).

31.These operators have to keep their monthly fees for full-day childcare and infant care services below S$760 (HK$4,420) and S$1,330 (HK$7,740) respectively. See Early Childhood Development Agency (2020).

32.WLG coverage increased to more than 90 000 employees in some 8 000 companies after the outbreak of COVID-19 during April-August 2020. See Ministry of Manpower (2020).

33.Housing and Development Board (2021b).

34.Housing and Development Board (2021c).

35.Housing and Development Board (2021a).

36.Government of Singapore (2020a) and Ministry of Health (2020).

37.United Nations Population Divisions (2015).

38.Koh, C.Y. (2018).

39.Jones, G.W. and Hamid, W. (2015).

40.Jones, G.W. and Hamid, W. (2015).

41.United Nations Population Fund (2019).


Hong Kong

1.Assisted Reproductive Technology Unit. (2021) Public Service Appointment.

2.Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre. (2014) Launch of the city's first comprehensive Child Cost Calculator.

3.Census and Statistics Department. (2018) 2016 Population By-census (Thematic Report: Persons Living in Subdivided Units).

4.Census and Statistics Department. (2020a) Fertility Trend in Hong Kong, 1981 to 2019.

5.Census and Statistics Department. (2020b) Hong Kong Population Projections 2020-2069.

6.Census and Statistics Department. (2020c) Table E486: Hong Kong Labour Force Projections.

7.Census and Statistics Department. (2021a) Table 3: Vital Events.

8.Census and Statistics Department. (2021b) Table 4: Number of live births born in Hong Kong to Mainland women.

9.Census and Statistics Department. (2021c) Women and Men in Hong Kong - Key Statistics (2021 Edition).

10.Centre of Assisted Reproduction and Embryology. (2021) Contact Us.

11.Chen, M. and Yip, P.S.F. (2017) The Discrepancy Between Ideal and Actual Parity in Hong Kong: Fertility Desire, Intention, and Behavior. Population Research and Policy Review, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 583-605.

12.Chief Secretary for Administration's Office. (2015) Population Policy: Strategies and Initiatives.

13.GovHK. (2017a) LCQ8: Medical support for women in relation to child birth.

14.GovHK. (2017b) LCQ15: Measures to encourage childbearing.

15.Legislative Council Secretariat. (2019) Opportunities and challenges facing maternal workforce in Hong Kong.

16.Leung, L.C. (2016) Making Policy for Child Care in Hong Kong.

17.Lui, C.W.L. (2019) Family Policies, Social Norms and Fertility Decisions: A Survey Experiment.

18.Rindfuss, R.R. and Choe, M.K. (2015) Diversity across Low-Fertility Countries: An Overview. Low and Lower Fertility, pp. 1-13.

19.Yip, P.S.F. (2014) A Study of Aspiration of Fertility amongst Married Women in Hong Kong (Age 15-49).

20.Youth I.D.E.A.S. (2018) Boosting Birth Rate in Hong Kong.


21.Department of Statistics Singapore. (2021) Births And Fertility Rates, Annual.

22.Early Childhood Development Agency. (2020) More Families to Benefit from Lower Fee Caps at 324 Childcare Centres Appointed as Partner Operators.

23.Government of Singapore. (2020a) Co-Funding For Assisted Conception Procedures (ACP).

24.Government of Singapore. (2020b) Subsidies For Preschool.

25.Housing and Development Board. (2021a) Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.

26.Housing and Development Board. (2021b) Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS).

27.Housing and Development Board. (2021c) Third Child Priority Scheme (TCPS).

28.Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. (2021a) Parenthood Tax Rebate (PTR).

29.Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. (2021b) Working Mother's Child Relief (WMCR).

30.Jones, G.W. and Hamid, W. (2015) Singapore's Pro-natalist Policies: To What Extent Have They Worked? Low and Lower Fertility, pp. 33-61.

31.Koh, C.Y. (2018) Fertility Rebound in the OECD: Insights for Singapore.

32.Ministry of Health. (2020) Extension of Assisted Conception Procedure Co-Funding to Private Assisted Reproduction Centres.

33.Ministry of Manpower. (2020) Work-Life Grant (WLG) for flexible work arrangements.

34.Ministry of Manpower. (2021a) Childcare leave eligibility and entitlement.

35.Ministry of Manpower. (2021b) Maternity leave eligibility and entitlement.

36.Ministry of Manpower. (2021c) Paternity leave.

37.Ministry of Manpower. (2021d) Unpaid infant care leave.

38.Ministry of Social and Family Development. (2021) Baby Bonus Scheme.

39.United Nations Population Division. (2015) Do pro-fertility policies in Singapore offer a model for other low-fertility countries in Asia?


40.Kisi. (2021) Cities with the Best Work-Life Balance 2021.

41.Ministry of Labor. (2021) Fertility Rates of Childbearing Age Women.

42.Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2019) PF2.1. Parental leave systems.

43.Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2021) Fertility rates.

44.Statistics Korea. (2021) Preliminary Results of Birth and Death Statistics in 2020.

45.United Nations Population Fund. (2019) Policy responses to low fertility: How effective are they?

46.World Bank. (2021) Fertility rate, total (births per woman).

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