Large family units could be thing of past

The days of large families and maybe even a part of Việt Nam’s identity could be lost forever, especially in the larger cities, now that women are having fewer babies.

As Việt Nam is now firmly part of the world’s economy, it is following the world trends with the most recent example of declining birth rates.

The modern-day woman is, through her own choice, helping stem the out of control population without any governmental help.

There was a two-child policy in the 1990s and before that, four-child policy, although it was discontinued in 2003, the government considered reviving it five years ago.

No need it appears as the choice factor is playing a hand in this.

Vietnamese women of today are maybe more career-orientated and look at factors that their own mothers would not have had the luxury of considering and quite rightly so.

It is a choice to have children, their choice.

The expense is maybe too much for many.

If a woman has one child, she may then decide she cannot afford another or maybe after a tough pregnancy she doesn’t want to go through it again after battling to regain her figure.

The woman may be thinking of her career or herself and her husband.

They are making good money and may want to continue with their good life.

Or they may want to travel, enjoy their freedom, and thus choose to say no to children at this moment.

babyAn infant is vaccinated at a hospital in Hồ Chí Minh City

Recently releaseaed figures state that the birth rate now is at 1.33 children per woman in 2012 in Hồ Chí Minh City, down from 1.45 children in 2009.

However, the national birth rate was 2.06 last year.

This move may just be a sign of the times but it must horrify older generations who want to be in a house full of grandchildren, just like the old days.

In a nation where family is everything, you can envisage the large family units of the past being almost wiped out over a generation, especially in urban areas.

The population crisis is something the western world has been sweating over since the baby boom of the sixties.

As the world’s population rises out of control, you would think it is good news that there are less babies being born but if only it were that simple.

According to experts, fewer young people means fewer people being part of a workforce that is paying taxes to help the ever-growing band of elderly people, as the world’s population lives longer lives.

This problem is not going away and we will all soon join these ranks.

Who is going to help the aged if, as recently reported, the birth rates of women of childbearing age are at its lowest level since records began?

This is also an issue:

Some like to see more taxpayers being born but where does it end?

How many people can fit in this small planet?

Will there be enough food for the ever-growing masses?

Haven’t farms and seas been exploited to the max already?

How can society put pressure on women to have more children?

The cost of rearing kids, I would imagine, is astronomical in Việt Nam.

Many local women can hardly afford to bring up one, never mind two or more children.

Who can blame them?

Especially as medicine and hospital costs in Việt Nam are expensive for low- and middle-income families.

Some are even sticking to one child, falling in line with the Chinese one baby per family quota.

The nation’s population has risen dramatically from 52.7 million in 1979 to 90 million today.

It is 14th on the world’s population list and ranks third in Southeast Asia.

And there is a real imbalance of population in urban and rural areas, which will be a challenge for the government now and in the future, with regard to infrastructure and social welfare.

Experts have warned that the fall in birth rates combined with people living longer will mean that there will be more retired people than those in the nation’s workforce.

They also warn about huge waves of immigrants to large cities, which may cause a shortage of workers in the countryside.

Something that I and most foreigners love about Việt Nam is seeing and being part of large families – my wife is one of seven – and it is amazing how they survive.

I think if you ask parents:

‘How do you do it?’

in other words:

“How they can manage to feed so many mouths and cope with the financial burden?”

They just shrug their shoulders as if to say:

‘We do what we have to do.’

I am one of three and always feel part of a small family.

I imagined it would be great to belong to a family of at least half a dozen kids taking on the world.

Although my family in Scotland is small, now I have an extended family in Việt Nam, my numbers have risen five or six-fold.

It does amaze me, speaking as a non-parent, how people do survive raising large families in Việt Nam, where you have to fend for yourself.

There is no luxury like they have back in Britain like the NHS providing free healthcare and welfare, housing allowances and the likes.

When I spend time with my Vietnamese family, it is a real learning and humbling experience for me.

I try to soak it all up and put it into perspective.

It actually makes me more relaxed about becoming a father, seeing these guys in action, banding together.

Although the Vietnamese families will be smaller in the future, I hope they don’t lose that family identity, which is sadly lost to most western people.

Blood is everything here.

In the UK, a lot of people are closer to friends than family.

Not so in Việt Nam.

Friends are close but family is everything.

I never could see that before and spending time here also helped me understand and appreciate my own family more.



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