Do it for the kids!
Foreigners from different countries talk about how many children they would like to have
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced their third child recently, which raised a discussion about childbirth in the UK. According to a CNN report in April 2018, due to rising costs, British women averagely tend to have 1.8 children each, while in the 1960s most had three children on average.
The trend of having less kids is not limited to the UK. In recent years, China’s birth rate has also witnessed a similar decline.
China’s newborn population in 2017 was down by 630,000 from 2016. The major reasons are rising cost of raising children, a lack of childcare services and pressure in the workplace, news portal zjol.com.cn reported in January 2018.
To glean insight into how many children people worldwide are willing to have, the Global Times recently interviewed a number of foreigners in Shanghai from different cultural background.
Juliana and Mariana, both in their 20s, are Brazilian travelers in Shanghai. Neither have children. Juliana said she might have one child, while Mariana said maybe two.
Anne from Germany has two children and she plans to have another in the next few years. “Nearly six years ago, when I was 31, I had my first baby. I always want to have a baby, and six years ago there was a time for me,” she told the Global Times.
Likewise, Bruno from Spain said he may only have one child in the future. Another German interviewee, Leon, said he plans to have one or two.
However, some interviewees have no willingness to bring children into this world. For instance, Brazilian Mayara told the Global Times that she does not ever want to have a baby. Similarly, Italian Antimo said he does not know whether he will have one.
When asked about how many children people in their countries generally have, most interviewees said one or two. Mayara, for instance, said today’s Brazilians normally have one or two children, but the exact number depends on a couple’s social class and financial capacity.
Juliana and Mariana added that the cost of raising a kid is increasing, so most Brazilians only have one or two children, while in the past they tended to have around four or five.
Mariana also pointed out that a growing number of Brazilian women tend to receive higher education and finish schooling at an older age, so many do not give birth to their first baby until around 30.
Similarly, Bruno and Leon pointed out that most couples in their respective countries normally have fewer children than in previous generations.
“Before, people liked to have five or even six. But the number is decreasing,” Bruno said.
Leon said that in Germany there are people who decided not to have any children and others who want to have a lot. “But the number of people who want a lot of children is decreasing,” Leon said.
Antimo told the Global Times that most Italian couples tend to have less than two children. “I think it is 1.5, but definitely less than two,” he added.
Factors that matter
What are the major factors foreigners consider when deciding the number of children to have? Most interviewees said financial condition is the biggest variable.
Anne, for instance, thinks family and financial situation are the two key factors to consider when deciding the number of children to have.
“My parents and also my boyfriend’s parents are not living in our city. This sometimes is a little bit difficult,” Anne said. “But maybe if we moved to my parents’ city, then we will consider a third baby.”
As for Antimo, he said he cannot think of any factor that would affect his decision. “But I think for most people it might be financial reasons and also time,” he said, adding the ability to provide time, energy and resources to children are things to consider.
“I think taking care of a kid today really requires a lot of effort. Most people who work today find it not easy to give necessary care to their kids. So it might actually impact the number of kids they want to have,” Antimo told the Global Times.
As for Juliana, money is the most decisive factor. “We [Brazilians] need to pay for school and stuff that is free in other countries,” she said, adding that security also must be considered.
These ideas were echoed by another Brazilian, Mayara, who said salary is the most decisive factor. “In my country, you have to pay for everything, like school, health care and clothes. So I think you must have a great salary to have kids,” she added.
As for Bruno, he thinks time and money are the keys to decide how many children he will have. “We have to work a lot and we don’t have the time to raise children,” Bruno said. “Also, I will only have children if I have enough money to raise them.”
Help from the government
Bruno added that he may consider having more children if there is more help from the government.
He told the Global Times that in Spain, when a couple has more than three children, they receive some discounts like cheaper university tuition fees; if a couple has four or more children, their university fees are free.
Likewise, interviewee Anne said parents in Germany can get a subsidy of 1,800 euros ($2,146) for 12 consecutive months or 14 months if a husband also stays at least two months at home.
Anne said that without such subsidies, there would be only one income from one family member. “But not everyone will get 1,800 euros per month; it depends on your income before,” she added.
Leon said that, “For every child you get money every month. If the number is really high, you get discounts, like university is free for the third one and stuff like that,” he told the Global Times.
Leon said caring centers for children are also widely available in his country’s communities and companies. “I don’t know how it is in China, but in Germany you have lots of possibilities to get help. You can go to work and they will look after your children,” he said.
However, some interviewees said their countries do not offer any tangible support for families with children. Mariana and Juliana, for example, said their government does not prohibit citizens from having children, but it does not provide any financial subsidies to those with kids either.
Brazil has free public schools and health centers, but the quality is not satisfactory, so most parents have to pay to give their children private education and health care, Mariana and Juliana explained.
A global problem
Statistics from the UN and the World Bank indicate that the total number of live births is decreasing worldwide, including in developing nations, according to World Economic Forum in 2018.
According to a 2017 report by The Beijing News, more than half of one-child families surveyed by the All-China Women’s Federation were unwilling to have a second child, even though the Chinese government implemented a comprehensive two-child policy in 2016. A 2016 survey made by Zhaopin.com said that many post-80s and post-90s generation working women in China prefer to have one or even no children.
Anne thinks living pressure and work pressure is a huge problem for young people in China, so if they do not get any support from their family or their companies, it is definitely a problem to have more than one child.
“It is a global challenge for young people to start a family and have kids. I don’t think this is necessarily only a Chinese issue,” Antimo said. “I don’t think you need a lot of kids to be a happy family. We already have so many on the planet.”
“China has so many people, and if young couples are deciding to have only one or no child, it will be very hard in the long term, like 50 years from now, to keep this standard of living. Because people are getting older and there will be less labor, and that could lead to problems,” Leon said.
Likewise, Mayara said that if the population keeps decreasing, it will pose a social problem in the future, like in Japan. She thinks if young people do not have kids, when they get old they will lack a labor force.
But she does not support the Chinese giving birth to too many children, as too much population tends to put pressure on the government. “With a smaller population, the government could put money into other fields, like health care,” she added.
Mariana and Juliana pointed out that growing up with siblings will give every kid another opinion and new point of view, helping them become more openminded and learn how to
share things with others.