Delayed marriage and low fertility are common issues developed countries are facing. This trend is also observed in our nation slowly turning into an ageing nation.
Recently, Twitter page @MySamudera wrote a thread about why young Malaysians are choosing to get married later in their lives and have fewer children.
“In Malaysia, more women are choosing to further their education and focus on their careers instead of starting a family and giving birth to children,” it wrote.
The page also cited a article by a local professor who claimed that this trend that is observed in developed nations is now spreading to developing countries, and unfortunately, many of our youths are influenced by this trend.
Golongan Muda Malaysia Pilih Kahwin Lambat, Anak Sedikit – Pakar Kesihatan.— Samudera.my (@MySamudera) August 30, 2022
“Di negara ini, ramai wanita sanggup sambung pendidikan hingga pengajian tinggi, lebih fokus untuk mengukuhkan kerjaya berbanding mendirikan rumah tangga dan melahirkan anak.." pic.twitter.com/g1Jv71SXYV
The thread has since caught the attention of netizens, with many pointing out that it was not a trend but they were forced into making such decisions.
“Professor, do you ever consider that, maybe, just maybe, the cost of living is too damn high to even have children? But of course, being a ‘back-in-my-day’ boomer, you don’t actually consider that because we all have it easy, right?” a netizen commented.
“Influenced? Seriously? Having a child is truly expensive! With the low wages and high cost of living, our future is not secure, not to even mention our children,” another netizen said.
Kalau kos sara hidup ni murah takpe gak nak anak ramai. ni nak suruh anak ramai kos sara hidup mahal, pastu siapa nak tanggung budak2 tu ?— kijung_kim (@kijungkim7) August 31, 2022
Malaysia’s declining birth rate
In an interview with FMT, Federation of Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia head of programmes and projects Mohd Fadzrel Abu Bakar pointed out that while there is a “strong relationship” between the birth rate and economic factors, it is not entirely right as there are other non-economic factors.
Fadzrel said there could be some link between the weak ringgit, the inflation rate and the declining birth rate.
“We know that in terms of the weak ringgit and the cost of living, which is rising, people who want to start a family will have to think twice,” he said.
“Yes, the cost is one of the factors if you’re looking to see why the fertility rate has declined. But is it the main factor?”
Fadzrel then pointed out that Malaysia’s fertility rate had been on the decline even before the national family planning programme was launched in 1966 and this was caused by the country’s rapid economic growth, urbanisation and rising education levels.
He explained that the increasing female workforce participation rates, increased contraceptive use and difficulties in conceiving were among the other factors.
“It may not always be a cost factor,” he said.
“We are not seeing this decrease just today or yesterday. It has been going on for the past 40 years.”