Society should come up with solutions to the problem of Macao’s low birth rate, because “childbirth is beyond the government’s control”, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng told the Legislative Assembly on Friday.
According to a local media report, Ho said that the government has done what it can, in particular making larger government built flats available to so-called “sandwich class” families — those earning too much to qualify for social housing and too little to afford private sector homes.
Figures released in March put the territory’s birth rate at 6.4 per thousand — the lowest since 1985. Meanwhile, the city’s ageing ratio – or the number of people over 65 compared to the number of children and adolescents – stands at more than 94 percent, indicating that there are virtually equal numbers of elderly and youth.
In his meeting with lawmakers, Ho reportedly pointed to government backing for medically assisted reproduction, longer maternity leave and subsidies for pregnant women, while pointing out that Macao’s birth rate compared favourably with Hong Kong (5.2 in 2021) and mainland China (6.77 in 2022).
But the chief executive also said that he hoped “local society could also provide solutions” when it came to encouraging Macao residents to have more children.
Experts have proposed a number of solutions to fix Macao’s ageing society, from more tax breaks for families and improved education to easier pathways to residency for mainland Chinese and foreign professionals.