Population bill supports women who give birth twice

By Le Nga   November 11, 2023 | 07:31 pm PT
Population bill supports women who give birth twice
A mother holds her newborn baby at the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Hue
Localities with low birth rates need to aid women who give birth to a second child, according to supporters of a new draft Population Law designed to combat labor shortages.

The Ministry of Health is drafting the law, which encourages couples in localities with low birth rates to have two children.

The bill proposes that such localities give a one-time monetary support package to women who give birth to a second child.

It also suggests waiving or reducing tuition fees for children in preschools and elementary schools, especially those in industrial parks and export processing zones.

Provinces and cities with low fertility rates will be required to review and abolish policies that encourage low birth rates, and instead encourage and create favorable conditions for couples to have two children, according to the draft law.

Vietnam's fertility rate has dropped sharply over the last two decades, leading to the risk of labor shortages. 

The average number of children a woman of reproductive age had in 2001 was 2.28, but the ratio had decreased to 2.1 by 2021.

According to the latest Population and Housing Census, fertility rates in most socio-economic regions have decreased, especially the southeast region and the Mekong Delta.

Currently, each woman of childbearing age in the southeast region, including Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai and Binh Duong, only gives birth to 1.56 children. In the Mekong Delta, the figure is 1.8 children.

Women in HCMC currently have the lowest fertility rate in the country - 1.39 children per woman.

"If the fertility rate is below 1.3 children per woman, it is almost impossible for the locality to recover to replacement level fertility," said Mai Trung Son, deputy head of the Department of Population Size and Family Planning under the General Office for Population and Family Planning of Vietnam

Replacement level fertility is the level of fertility at which a population replaces itself equally from one generation to the next. In developed countries, replacement-level fertility can be taken as requiring an average of 2.1 children per woman.

"Low-fertility localities account for a population of nearly 38 million, which is almost 40% of the country's population. That means a huge impact on sustainable development," said Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Lien Huong.

Drafters of the law have thus argued that fertility intervention policies must be different for different regions and localities.

They said low fertility has long-term consequences, such as an ageing population with higher national health care costs and other societal burdens.

A smaller labor pool also reduces economic competitiveness, and a shrinking population also means a dwindling supply of consumers, thereby causing lower economic growth and lower living standards.

According to the National Assembly's Committee for Culture and Education, the proportion of young people in Vietnam's population fell from 23% in 2020 to 20.9% late last year, putting the country at risk of a labor shortage.

In 2020, Vietnam had 22.6 million people aged 15-24, but the figure had dropped to 20.7 million by the end of last year. This means the number of young workers dropped 170,000 each year during the interval.

Many countries facing low fertility rates have succeeded in curbing such declines by steadfastly applying countermeasures.

In South Korea, which has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, the government has tripled the amount of money spent on birth promotion activities, while sharply increasing subsidies to encourage families to have more children.

In Hungary, women who give birth to four or more children do not have to pay personal income tax for life.

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