Financial incentives to boost infeasible deliveries: experts

A draft population bill prepared for submission to the government states that couples living in areas with low birth rates would be encouraged to have two children.

The government would give couples a sum equal to the minimum wage of the region in which they live when they have their first child, and double when they have the second.

The minimum wage currently ranges from VND 3.07 million to VND 4.42 million. Under the proposal, women in some areas could receive up to VND 8.84 million when they have their second child.

Professor Nguyen Dinh Cu, former director of the Institute of Population and Social Affairs of the National University of Economics, said that there are now 21 cities and provinces with low birth rates and considering the current population of these localities, if mothers give birth to a second child there each year, approximately 600,000 babies would be born, meaning that the state would have to spend 5.4 trillion VND ($ 237 million) per year to the incentive.

The sum is far too large and would weigh on the state budget, he said.

Meanwhile, 9 million VND to raise a child is far too little.

Among the regions with the lowest birth rate is the Southeast region, home to Ho Chi Minh City. Many couples in this region are migrant workers who have to cover different types of expenses each month, including rent, which means the incentive would be little more than “a drop in the bucket,” Cu said.

Pham Chanh Trung, head of HCMC’s Population and Family Planning Bureau, said offering a monetary incentive to encourage childbirth was not a new method and that many Asian peers with low birth rates like Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have already applied it.

“However, numerous studies have shown that the incentive is only one part of many combined solutions.”

As for HCMC, there are many pressures on couples, including having a house and a decent environment to raise a child, cover a high cost of living, and keep a job (given the city’s highly competitive labor market) . In most cases, women have to go to work and, therefore, face more challenges in work-life balance.

The decision to have just one child for many couples comes from a reasonable cause: to ensure that they will give the child the best that they can.

Therefore, Trung suggested, policy makers should listen to the real demand of parents and seek expert advice to find appropriate solutions, as it takes the support of the whole system for parents to take good care of their parents. their children.

Cu said that in order for the childbirth incentive to work, the solutions need to be diverse.

There is a need to publicly promote the participation of men in household chores, caring for children to alleviate the burden on women. Nowadays, women also have to go to work, earn money and therefore reduce the economic pressure on husbands, he said.

Scheduled to be submitted to city lawmakers at the end of this year, a draft plan on HCMC population policy in 2021-2025 that brings together both experts and public opinion proposes several solutions to encourage couples to have two children, in particular the subsidy or elimination of hospital costs for the delivery of the second child and offer families with two children subsidized loans to access social housing.

Other recommendations include extending maternity leave from six months to one year to have a second child and to give the father one month’s leave, increasing the number of days of paid annual leave by 12 for employees with children under five and subsidizing kindergarten fees in public establishments. for families with two children.

Vietnam is one of the fastest aging countries in the world. It entered the aging phase in 2011 when the number of people over the age of 60 made up 10 percent of the population. This rate rose to 12% last year for a population of 95 million inhabitants and is expected to reach 17.9% in 2025 and more than 20% in 2038.

More and more women in Vietnam are choosing to marry later and not have children, with the pressure of costs related to employment, housing, living and education being factored into their plans. decisions.

A ruling by then-prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last year encouraged people to marry before the age of 30 and have children early.

Nguyen Doan Tu, head of the General Population and Family Planning Department of the Ministry of Health, said last year that Vietnam has an average birth rate of 2.1 and that this level is necessary to ensure labor force because a lower rate means the population is aging rapidly. .

Trung said low fertility and rapid aging of the population are creating increasing pressure on the social security system for the elderly such as pensions, health insurance, social benefits and at the same time causing a decline of the workforce, affecting the socio-economic development of the city.

On the other hand, the cost of the birth promotion policy as planned in HCMC will put pressure on the city budget, while this budget should be invested in improving sustainable development.

However, Cu said, “In the long run, Vietnam needs to have strategies to adjust to the downward trend in birth rates to replace quantity with quality in its workforce.”

Some countries have already improved their production using robots and Vietnam should learn from their experience so that its economy is not affected by the low birth rate, it was suggested.

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