The Discrepancy Between Ideal and Actual Parity in Hong Kong: Fertility Desire, Intention, and Behavior
The total fertility rate of Hong Kong has remained below 1.3 children per woman for about three decades, but it is still unknown whether this ultra-low fertility is driven by a downward shift in people’s fertility desires, or by low fertility intention. This study investigates the fertility desires and fertility intentions of married women via a parity-specific approach, using data from the knowledge, attitude, and practice survey conducted in 2012. The results show that the average ideal parity has shifted to sub-replacement level, indicating that the “two-child family” ideal is waning. The logistic regressions show that the determinants of low fertility intentions vary across parities: marital life satisfaction, household income, and good communication with husbands regarding childbearing are positively associated with first-birth intentions; wives’ part-time work depresses second-birth intentions; wives’ full-time work and gender inequality in the division of housework are negatively associated with third-birth intentions. It is noteworthy that fertility desire has become a strong predictor of fertility intention—especially related to first and second births, independent of other socioeconomic factors. Motivations for childbearing and difficulties in childrearing also differ across actual parities. These results should be applicable to women in other high-income Asian countries. The formulation of any pronatalist policy in Hong Kong should consider these parity-specific differences to enhance its effectiveness.