17 December 2005

Cute Little Ducklings

ST Dec 16, 2005
China's new rich flaunt their brood
One-child policy is no deterrent to those who can pay the hefty fine

BEIJING - CHINA'S 'nouveaux riches' are not just competing with each other to buy grandiose mansions, private jets and fast, expensive cars - their latest status symbol is a brood of children.

The rich are finding a number of ways to get around the one-child policy adopted in 1979 to curb a huge population explosion in the world's most populous country.

Many business tycoons and celebrities are increasingly flouting the policy simply paying 'social maintenance fee', which can be as high as 150,000 yuan (S$31,000) per extra child for urban dwellers or as low as 7,000 yuan for rural residents.

Some wealthy people are even emigrating abroad for the sole purpose of having a second or third child whom they bring back to raise in China.
Singapore's position is opposite from China's - here the government keeps trying (and failing) to encourage more Singaporeans to have children. Nevertheless Mr Wang notes an interesting parallel.

Mr Wang has no official figures, but from personal observation, he notes that in Singapore, the people who choose to have three or more children are increasingly the richer folks. That's because they can afford it. In contrast, the "middles" tend to avoid having children, and even the poor, who used to have more children than they could afford, now seem to know better.

So the parallel between Singapore and China is that in both countries, the rich are the ones who end up having the most children.


Han said...

The Economist actually predicted this a long time ago, that children will become luxury goods as they are expensive.

Some people worry that this may lead to unfair advantages for the wealthy and their kids, but I think this would be a good thing for ALL people.

Think about this: which has a stronger redistributive effect, dividing wealth amongst 3 or 4 children or passing on the wealth to only 1 child?

I believe that rich people having more children also means that wealth is less likely to be concentrated in the hands of a few.

Kelvin said...

Life is short. Have children.

I'm serious. Just think about a list of must-do things before you die, e.g, climb a mountain, lose your virginity, skydive, see the Grand Canyon, etc, etc.
Surely, having children should be on the list as well.

Anthony said...

There's a good argument that intelligence actually breeds itself -out- by natural selection.

The logic is that children almost always imply a dissipation of resources. The presence of intelligence will necessarily drop birth rates.

This logic is also evidence that man is a social animal - it requires a certain level of social development to counter the effects of intelligence on propogation.

Anyway, I digress.

Agagooga said...

Err. Anecdotally perhaps in Singapore a few rich people have more children because they can afford it.

Yet, they are far outweighed by the poor people who have more children even though they cannot afford it (ST Pocket Money Fund and moral hazard, anyone?) And I'm quite sure they are also outweighed by the rich people who don't want children because it's a hassle, a burden and expensive (tuition etc - they want to spend it on themselves).

Overall and statistically, development is still the best contraceptive.

Or maybe once again we are "Uniquely Singapore". Would be enlightening to do a survey on this.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Well, Stray Cat, just to please you, I've decided to delete the "offending" sentence. I do however look forward to having a 3rd kid, although I have to say Mrs Wang isn't so keen on the idea.

Anthony said...

Btw Mr Wang,

I'll be at Starbucks Liat Towers at 8 pm today. It's kind of an informal gathering thing - would love to see you there.

PC said...

Actually, Singapore didn't fail... it actually succeeded!!!

If you remember, the government actually had a 2-is-enough policy. At that point in time, the focus was on the prosperity of Singapore as a nation. What the policy makers didn't realize is that once started, it's really difficult to retract!.. remember the main drive of the policy was for parents to give their best for their 2 children? With that message so well ingrained (just listen to the young parents today.. and they'll say.. 2 is enough lah.. how to afford? Must give the best to the 2 I already have..blah blah)... and our continued focus on materialism, is it any wonder that it's so difficult to drop this mindset?

There's no real answer, but I suspect we ought to start working on expectations.. once people recognise that there are other ways to success other than the pre-requisite of sheer financial strength, the people will wise up and then loosen up (no pun intended)...

As for me? I'm not rich at all, But I believe once the child comes, a way will always open for you...

Drawing a parallel to the initial 2 is enough policy, it would be interesting to see the long term repercussions of the IR projects... the issues just shouldn't be just about money, and job creation... there are other things at stake.. more qualitative than quantitative...