Feature Articles

FPAHK Youth Sexuality Study 2011 (Aged 18-27 Youth Survey)

Ref Number: ESEAOR201208YSSb

  • Date1 Aug 2012
  • Category FPA Message
  • Targets Public
  • AuthorFPAHK
  • Topic Birth and Pregnancy, Marriage and Family

Findings of the second part of FPAHK’s Youth Sexuality Study (YSS) 2011were released at a press conference on 26 June 2012. A growing uncertainty about marriage and childbearing and a falling ideal parity among young adults cast a shadow over the Hong Kong population which is already challenged by aging and low fertility There is a pressing need for a sustainable population policy, said the FPAHK.

1,223 youths aged between 18 and 27, including 595 females and 628 males, were polled from October to December 2011 in the Household Survey of the YSS 2011. The key findings on marriage, fertility and family formation were presented by Professor Paul Yip, a population specialist and Chairman of FPAHK’s Research Subcommittee.

Marriage and Family Formation

About half of the respondents indicated they would get married in the future, while those who were undecided increased by 10% to comprise the other half of the respondents, when compared to 2006. The major reason for not marrying or being undecided was being unable to find a suitable partner; the second reason was to enjoy the fun of single life; and males gave a third reason of insufficient finances.

When asked whether they would have children in the future, over half responded positively, 10% responded negatively, and about one-third were undecided. Major reasons for not desiring any children included fear of the responsibilities or financial burden of raising children, dislike of children and desire for a carefree life. The average ideal parity saw a steady decline from 1.8 among females and 1.9 among males in 1991 to 1.5 and 1.4 respectively in 2011.

Fertility and Pregnancy

Over 85% of sexually active respondents practiced contraception in the past six months. Those who used male condom or oral pills as the main contraception had increased by more than 10% to approximately 90% as compared to 2006.

10% female respondents had been pregnant and about half of the first pregnancies ended in childbirth, mostly within marriage. In contrast, pregnancies ending in abortion showed a drop by 10 percentage points to about 40% following a continuous two-decade upward trend, and most of these pregnancies were not within marriage. About 5% of female respondents had had abortion, and about 60% of them had their first abortion below the age of 21.

Professor Yip noted that the findings reflected youths’ growing uncertainty over marriage which, given their general idea that marriage should precede childbirth, would lead to a decline in Hong Kong’s fertility. Even among those who would get married, their increasing mean age of first childbirth and declining ideal parity could compound the fertility crisis. He said Hong Kong needed a sustainable population policy and urged policy-makers to address ways of reducing young people’s barriers to family formation, such as providing more affordable housing, childcare facilities, alternative education options and implementing family-friendly policies, etc. He also encouraged employers to adopt a family-friendly working environment and sharing of housework and child-care responsibilities between the couple.