Hot property market in Hong Kong
Low birth rates are a major problem facing many countries around the world but Hong Kong seems to be facing a direr situation compared to other nations. Despite the fact that this year is a Dragon Year which usually sees a spike in birth rates, 2012 fails to live up to its promise of delivering a higher birth rate. Nomura’s Paul Louieg attributes the disappointing birth rate to the housing situation in Hong Kong. The slow growth of the Hong Kong economy coupled with the increasing prices of property in Hong Kong has resulted in a real estate bubble. Based on a buy-to-rent ratio, Hong Kong is already considered the most overpriced market worldwide and the priciest street in the world is located in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s low birth rate
Money is a huge factor when considering whether to have a kid and it is no surprise that even the Dragon year is unable to motivate couples to reproduce. There is a 5% drop in the Hong Kong birth rate from 2011 to 2012 despite the fact that marriage levels are up by 5%. This highly unusual situation is even more unusual given the fact that past Dragon years saw a rise in Hong Kong birth rates even as number of marriages fell.
Singapore faces a similar situation to Hong Kong due to its increasing costs of living and similarly abysmal birth rate level. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew famously said that “If we go on like that, this place will fold up, because there’ll be no original citizens left to form the majority, and we cannot have new citizens, new PRs to settle our social ethos, our social spirit, our social norms.” Singapore’s birth rate currently stands at 1.08, 1.09 and 1.64 for the Chinese, Indian and Malay community respectively. These figures mean that Singapore currently has the third lowest birth rate among East Asian nations.
Tackling the declining birth rate in Singapore has become an arduous task for the Singapore government and despite its numerous baby-making incentives, there has been little success. Currently, some of the policies include a dating service called the Social Development Network and offering parents $18,000 when they have their fifth child. A video was even posted on Singapore’s National Day urging citizens to procreate.
However, Singapore’s birth rate does not seem to be improving much anytime soon despite the Government’s best efforts.