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Focus on the bleak ramifications of falling fertility rates in South East Asian countries

HONG KONG–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The deeper implications of falling fertility rates in South East Asia,
particularly China and Japan, have been brought into sharp focus at a
global conference on human reproduction in Hong Kong.

A bleak outlook has been portrayed in social and economic terms if the
population downturn trend continues.

Speaking at the 9th Congress of the Asia Pacific Initiative
on Reproduction (ASPIRE) 2019 Congress, internationally recognised
health sector analyst, Ivy Teh, said both China and Japan faced
declining total fertility rates, meaning women are not giving birth to
enough babies to sustain population levels.

Globally, the average population replacement rate is 2.1, but in China
it has fallen to 1.65 while in Japan it is 1.46, one of the lowest in
the world.

“If the trends does not change, the economic impact and social strain
will be immense,” Ms Teh said. “There will be a severely diminishing
workforce and family stress will increase as the smaller, younger
generation face challenges to support a larger number of retirees.

“Society will also struggle as it becomes less dynamic with a shrinking
younger demographic.”

Ms Teh, Global Managing Director of EIU Healthcare Consulting, was
addressing the ASPIRE Congress and the Hong Kong Convention and
Exhibition Centre, which has attracted around 1,700 delegates from 50
countries to address latest developments in human reproduction.

She said other South East Asian countries with fast developing
economies, including Vietnam and the Philippines, were also experiencing
rapid declines in total fertility rates.

“The decision by China to abolish the one-child restriction in 2015 and
raise it to two children has not significantly changed public attitudes
towards family structures,” Ms Teh said.

“The first generation of one-only children – those born in the 1970s and
1980s – are now becoming parents. Most of them never experienced sibling
relationships and have come to be accustomed to a single child family
environment.

“At the same time, they are also highly dependant on their parents – the
grandparents – to help take care of their child. Most grandparents are
no longer keen to take care of more than one child, which could be a
barrier for couples having more children.”

Ms Teh said young women were also becoming more independent with many
placing career and lifestyle choices ahead of having children, often
delaying family considerations until an age where their fertility was in
decline.

“Throughout the region there is also evidence of poor understanding
about fertility issues,” she added. “For example, research has shown
that 40 per cent of women in Japan believe they are just as capable of
conceiving in their forties as they were in their thirties.”

Ms Teh said the population replacement outlook could be improved by
legislating more family friendly policies, including broader parental
leave entitlements, subsidised child care and better work-life balances,
along with financial incentives and easier access to assisted
reproductive technologies such as IVF.

She said governments should look at funding improved fertility rates as
a long-term investment.

“Cost benefit analyses of assisted reproductive technology and family
policy interventions suggest that, over a lifetime, public spending on
fertility and family support is an investment rather than a cost.

“Government and policymakers often discount potentially large future
gains in order to prioritise smaller current gains, or money saving
measures.

“The situation with falling fertility will always be prone to
discounting, but the threat of continuous rapid fall is an existential
issue, particularly in Japan where the population is projected to fall
from 129 million in 2006 to 108 million in 2050. Therefore, long term
thinking is essential.”

The ASPIRE 2019 Congress is being held at the Hong Kong Convention and
Exhibition Centre.

INTERVIEW

Ms Ivy Teh is available for interview in Singapore on 65 6715 9228 or 65
8322 0636.

Contacts

For further information, please contact
Trevor Gill,
ASPIRE
2019 Congress Media Relations,
0418 821948
e-mail: [email protected]

HONG KONG–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The deeper implications of falling fertility rates in South East Asia,
particularly China and Japan, have been brought into sharp focus at a
global conference on human reproduction in Hong Kong.

A bleak outlook has been portrayed in social and economic terms if the
population downturn trend continues.

Speaking at the 9th Congress of the Asia Pacific Initiative
on Reproduction (ASPIRE) 2019 Congress, internationally recognised
health sector analyst, Ivy Teh, said both China and Japan faced
declining total fertility rates, meaning women are not giving birth to
enough babies to sustain population levels.

Globally, the average population replacement rate is 2.1, but in China
it has fallen to 1.65 while in Japan it is 1.46, one of the lowest in
the world.

“If the trends does not change, the economic impact and social strain
will be immense,” Ms Teh said. “There will be a severely diminishing
workforce and family stress will increase as the smaller, younger
generation face challenges to support a larger number of retirees.

“Society will also struggle as it becomes less dynamic with a shrinking
younger demographic.”

Ms Teh, Global Managing Director of EIU Healthcare Consulting, was
addressing the ASPIRE Congress and the Hong Kong Convention and
Exhibition Centre, which has attracted around 1,700 delegates from 50
countries to address latest developments in human reproduction.

She said other South East Asian countries with fast developing
economies, including Vietnam and the Philippines, were also experiencing
rapid declines in total fertility rates.

“The decision by China to abolish the one-child restriction in 2015 and
raise it to two children has not significantly changed public attitudes
towards family structures,” Ms Teh said.

“The first generation of one-only children – those born in the 1970s and
1980s – are now becoming parents. Most of them never experienced sibling
relationships and have come to be accustomed to a single child family
environment.

“At the same time, they are also highly dependant on their parents – the
grandparents – to help take care of their child. Most grandparents are
no longer keen to take care of more than one child, which could be a
barrier for couples having more children.”

Ms Teh said young women were also becoming more independent with many
placing career and lifestyle choices ahead of having children, often
delaying family considerations until an age where their fertility was in
decline.

“Throughout the region there is also evidence of poor understanding
about fertility issues,” she added. “For example, research has shown
that 40 per cent of women in Japan believe they are just as capable of
conceiving in their forties as they were in their thirties.”

Ms Teh said the population replacement outlook could be improved by
legislating more family friendly policies, including broader parental
leave entitlements, subsidised child care and better work-life balances,
along with financial incentives and easier access to assisted
reproductive technologies such as IVF.

She said governments should look at funding improved fertility rates as
a long-term investment.

“Cost benefit analyses of assisted reproductive technology and family
policy interventions suggest that, over a lifetime, public spending on
fertility and family support is an investment rather than a cost.

“Government and policymakers often discount potentially large future
gains in order to prioritise smaller current gains, or money saving
measures.

“The situation with falling fertility will always be prone to
discounting, but the threat of continuous rapid fall is an existential
issue, particularly in Japan where the population is projected to fall
from 129 million in 2006 to 108 million in 2050. Therefore, long term
thinking is essential.”

The ASPIRE 2019 Congress is being held at the Hong Kong Convention and
Exhibition Centre.

INTERVIEW

Ms Ivy Teh is available for interview in Singapore on 65 6715 9228 or 65
8322 0636.

Contacts

For further information, please contact
Trevor Gill,
ASPIRE
2019 Congress Media Relations,
0418 821948
e-mail: [email protected]

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