PUTRAJAYA: Financial factors are major obstacles for couples keen to have the desired family size, said the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) director general, Abdul Shukur Abdullah (pix).
He said, although on average, parents in the country wanted four children, but the reality was that most of them could only have between two to three people because of the high cost of a child.
“According to the Fifth Malaysia Population and Family Survey (KPKM-5), 65% of married people said they would like to have more children if financial issues were not a hindrance,“ he told Bernama.
Obviously, among the costs that were seen to be burdening parents were in buying baby equipment and foods such disposable diapers and milk which were expensive as well as the costs of babysitting and high nursery fees.
In addition, he said other factors that prevented families in the country from reaching their desired size were late marriages, difficulties in finding a spouse and fertility issues.
Therefore, he said incentives in the form of financial assistance to promote birth should be introduced by the government in addressing this issue.
“We are proposing to the government that additional incentives be given to parents such as nursery facilities, bonuses for each birth and helping to cover the cost of milk which will directly help parents to reduce their family’s living expenses,“ he said.
Meanwhile, Abdul Shukur said, when compared to the fertility rate with other Asean countries, the country’s fertility rate is currently at the third lowest level of 1.9 children per woman, aged 15 to 49 years, in 2016 after Singapore (1.2) and Thailand (1.5).
“The study in 2018 also found that the country’s fertility rate had also decreased rapidly to 1.8 people, and this situation will accelerate the aging process of the country and it is likely that the country will reach the status of an old country before 2030,“ he said.
He said it was clear that if fertility rates continued to decline and no intervention was taken to address this, Malaysia was expected to experience a population contraction for the first time in 2072 which would have an implication on the economy due to the labor shortages in the country. — Bernama