The initial draft of the Population Law proposed by the Ministry of Health is receiving comments and suggestions from all quarters. The Ministry plans to submit the draft proposal to the Government with detailed suggestions on when a mother can have her first child, and after what gap of time should the second child be born.
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For the first born, the Ministry proposes a sum of VND 3 to 4 mn as support, and for the second child the mother will receive upto VND 9 mn. This is the first time in the history of Vietnam, that such an incentive is being proposed for the birth of a child.
The growth of the population faces three phases, namely, birth, death and growth. Any major change in these three phases affects the development of the population in a country. Therefore, any development strategy, or any policy in formulating and promulgating must take into account the entire population. From the development of transportation, to housing, education, health care, agriculture, building the military and even cemeteries, calls for the consideration of the population.
However, having too many births in a region can also lead to social insecurity, while having too few births or living too long, can lead to the growth and increase of an aging generation. Giving birth to too many boys, makes it difficult for millions of men to find wives, while giving birth to too many girls can create a situation that there’s no one to fight in a war, no one can keep the country borders.
Every country has over the years issued several policies related to its population, but within a few decades has chosen to abolish them after they have proven ineffective. Russia chose to build millions of apartments for compact families, but these days, young people prefer not to marry or they get married too late in life, after which they decide not to burden themselves with children. Demand for housing was only centred around apartments for single families, so this housing program went bust.
In 1978, China applied the one-child policy to reduce its population growth, which was considered a success because after more than 40 years, China only increased its population by 300 million people. However, a negative factor which was a consequence of this policy was that every family only wanted a boy child, so in subsequent years the male population grew by 20% more than the female population.
This meant that hundreds of millions of young Chinese could not get married, leading to a rise in homosexuality, trafficking of women and male children. After decades of failure, the country has had to replace this law with one that allows a family to have two children. Thus, the promulgation of population policies is very difficult, and if not planned properly, it could lead to a reversal of its actual intended effect.
Today in Vietnam, some problems concerning the population growth and ratio is beginning to rise, such as rapid aging of population, low birth rates, and too much unequal distribution of population across regions. The fertility rate of women of childbearing age is currently 2.09 children per woman, compared with the replacement fertility rate of 2.1 children, which is not yet at a worrisome figure. However, it is more worrisome in cities where the fertility rate among women is low, about 1.53 children per woman. Thus, birth promotion in the current period is mainly focused on urban areas.
Modern women shun children
During the last ten years, in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, a large number of young men and women who are not married choose a single lifestyle. Another segment tends to get married very late, with females after the age of 28, and males after the age of 32, but both do not want to have children. Others want to have children, but only one child, either a boy or a girl. So under such circumstances it is to be seen whether the new promotion policy will leave an impact on young people. There may be more or less impact, but couples choose to have children not because of the bonus, but because of other more important things related to the environment and the quality of their lives.
It is a fact, that raising children nowadays is very hard, and this is why young couples are afraid of raising children. Besides, giving birth to a child and raising it costs both a lot of money and energy, not to say that for at least the next twenty years of their lives it is a continuing problem and burden. Only those who have been parents know how hard it is to give birth to a child and raise and take care of the child. This is not just a simple task of taking care of them at home, but also requires schooling, taking extra lessons, picking up and dropping the child to school every day, worry about the health of the child constantly, and fear for other lurking dangers like car crashes, dog biting, flooding, electric shocks, falling trees, violence, or even sexual abuse.
Our current living environment makes young people afraid to give birth, and if they give birth once, they don’t want to give birth a second time. They also think that it is a sin to give birth and not raise the child properly. These are some reasons why young people these days have just one child, so they can provide better care for this one child rather than distribute their resources among two or three children.
It is clear that if children grow up in a healthy environment and a safe society, receiving healthy clean food, and nurturing care, their future is guaranteed to be enriching. Maybe the Government does not need to encourage young people to have children if the conditions around them are already suitable. Our current living standards in cities is too low and stressful. Imagine an excellent student who is employed as a university lecturer, who after seven years still receives a salary of about VND 5.5 mn, when he is 28 or 29 years old. With such an income, it is difficult to support oneself, let alone buy a house, get married, and have children.
Many people these days, including several leaders, fear that some time in future Ho Chi Minh City will be faced with a rapidly aging population, and a lack of work force due to the low fertility rate in the country. However, the fact is that Ho Chi Minh City has an ever flowing population from all across the country, and it is not a stagnating city. Ho Chi Minh City always will draw a flood of young, healthy, intelligent, and dynamic young people from all across the country who will live here and study or work and keep the population of the city forever vibrant. Ho Chi Minh City will always be a hub that will attract all kinds of people, talent and work force, and history shows that the City has never shown any signs of slowing.
Encouraging women to have more children by offering money as incentive is understandable and necessary, but it is still not an important deciding factor for women for having more children. Only when the standards of living improve, and a stable income is provided for young families, will the younger generation of couples be keen on raising more children.
Source: Saigon Invest, reported by SGGP.
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