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Have more kids or Macao’s population will shrink, professor warns

Lin Zijun of MUST says population decline is on the cards if Macao doesn’t lift its birth rate and fertility rate soon
  • His warning comes as lawmaker Wong Kit Cheng calls for higher childbirth subsidies and longer maternity leave





Macao’s population could start shrinking in as few as five years if more is not done to encourage childbirth. That’s according to Lin Zijun, dean of the School of Business at the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST).

His stark warning, made to public broadcaster TDM, comes as Macao grapples with its lowest birth rate in 20 years – at just 5.5 per 1,000 population. The city’s total fertility rate is also languishing at 0.59, far from the 2.1 figure needed to maintain the population.

Lin acknowledged that the trends such as late marriage and late childbirth were impacting the birth rate, as was the increasingly high cost of childcare. He also pointed out that the challenge of caring for an increasing number of elderly would fall on declining numbers of young people.

[See more: Young Macao residents don’t care much about marriage or child rearing, survey finds

Lin’s warning came as legislator Wong Kit Cheng, who is also the vice chair of the Women’s General Association of Macao, issued a plea for further childbirth incentives. She appealed for an increase in marriage and childbirth subsidies, and an extension of maternity leave from the present 70 days to 90 days.

Wong added that positive views on marriage and child rearing had to be instilled in younger generations.

However, the latest government attempt to encourage local residents to have more children has provoked a social media backlash. Viewers said a feel-good video produced by the Social Welfare Bureau failed to take into account the realities of raising a child in present day Macao, prompting embarrassed officials to promise a more realistic approach in future communications.

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