When his first daughter turned one year old, Mr. Hung, 29, told his parents who lived in the countryside: "We don't want to give birth anymore!" Surprised, his mother asked: "Why are you thinking so selfishly?"

Hung and his wife moved to Hanoi from small provinces. Before giving birth, his wife worked as an accountant. But after becoming pregnant, she quit her job to spend all of her time for the baby.

This year, their child is 2.5 years old. She still is staying at home to take care of the child because Hung is often away from home on business.

Hung said he had not thought about how many children they should have. But after his wife became pregnant, seeing her undergoing many risks during childbirth, he did not want to see his wife suffering pain and hardship again.

“I don't need to have a son nor have two children. To raise a child, we must have many things, not just money. It is a matter of having time for children and the knowledge of how to raise children,” Hung said.

His monthly income ranges from VND15 to VND20 million ($600-800). His wife plans to go back to work sooner or later. Thus, the couple's income is not too low to raise two children.

Now the couple is fine with one child, whether it's a boy or a girl.

It is not difficult to find couples with the same views as Hung. Most of them were born in the 1980s and 1990s, living and working in big cities.

According to a quick survey on the number of children desired by Vietnamese, conducted by the General Department of Population and Family Planning in October 2019, 10% of respondents said they wanted to have one child, while those who did not want to have children accounted for 4%. The survey was conducted online on the Gia Dinh & Xa Hoi Newspaper (Family and Society) over one month, with 11,160 votes.

The same survey was carried out in 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam, with 6,488 participants: 7% of those wanted to have one child, and 1% did not want to have a baby.

Similarly, when the survey was conducted on the website of the General Department of Population and Family Planning within two months, with 45,821 votes, the number of people who wanted to have one child accounted for 4.5%, and 1.28% did not want to have a child.

Fertility rate declines: world trend

Dr. Nguyen Dinh Cu, former director of the Institute of Population and Social Affairs, said that Vietnam has a replacement fertility rate of 2.09 children per woman. This is an ideal fertility rate level that the country has maintained since 2006.

However, according to global trends, this number is expected to fall, he said.

“Having only one child or none has not become a popular trend, but this has appeared relatively clear in some provinces and regions. The current generation of women of reproductive age were generally born in the Doi Moi (reform) period. They grew up in the time of the market economy, international integration, modernization, urbanization... Those factors urge them want to develop themselves, towards wealth, towards higher quality of life. One of the solutions to have a higher quality of life is to have fewer children,” Dr. Cu said.

On the macro level, low fertility rates will affect the sustainable development of the country. Labor shortage and aging population aging are the first consequences of low fertility, and then problems associated with labor import, social security and health care.

"Even when we can maintain the replacement fertility rate of two children per woman, population aging still occurs," he said.

According to the latest forecast of the General Statistics Office, the golden population period of Vietnam will last about 32 years - from 2007 to 2039. "If Vietnam does not make good use of this period, it will miss a great opportunity to become a developed country," Cu added.

Most sustainable solution: adaptation

Since 1961, Vietnam has been successful in creating policies and Communication plans on reducing fertility. But in recent years, facing a threat of population aging, policies to encourage fertility have been under consideration.

Decision 588 on "Program to adjust fertility to suit different regions and subjects by 2030" approved by the Prime Minister mentions content such as encouraging men and women to get married before 30 years old, giving birth early, and encouraging couples to have two children.

However, Dr. Nguyen Dinh Cu said that these solutions are supportive only. The government offers subsidies, but when divided per person, these are negligible compared to resources and efforts needed to take care of a child.

The most sustainable solution, according to the world's experience, is to actively adapt to a society with low fertility.

First, Vietnam must improve labor productivity, improve the quality of human resources, and apply science and technology to save human labor. Second, all socio-economic plans must take into account the prospect of a low fertility rate.

Dr. Cu said: “The State needs to share the 'burden' of raising children with the people by improving the quality of the systems of education, healthcare, environmental protection, cultural development, and social security, thereby improving the quality of life of people.

These are the most effective encouragement measures besides the solutions of giving physical support and spiritual encouragement. When people's lives are improved, the pressure and anxiety about caring for and raising a child will also be lessened. Then families will have more children."

Dang Duong

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