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Harried South Koreans pamper pets instead of having kids (reuters.com)
47 points by starpilot 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments

We have the same trend in Hong Kong, where it was estimated in 2014 to cost $700,000 (USD) to raise a kid [1].

I've several married friends (all Hong Kong locals) chose to have pets over kids, and that's also my preference - except I don't want to have pets either.

By the way, there are 150 mainland Chinese migrating to Hong Kong, daily [2]. That means "original" Hong Kongers will be rare eventually.

[1]: https://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/09/04/want-to-raise...

[2]: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/08/15/41000-one-way-permit-h...

> By the way, there are 150 mainland Chinese migrating to Hong Kong, daily [2]. That means "original" Hong Kongers will be rare eventually.

There are over 7 million people in Hong Kong. I think it's going to take a while for Mainland Chinese to swamp out "original" Hong Kongers at that rate...

The 150 new migrants are also giving birth of babies, unlike the "original" Hong Kongers who prefer otherwise. So the process is a bit faster than you think, but of course it will take a while.

This really sounds a lot like the alarmist propaganda spread about migrants in other countries.

Alarmist propaganda that happens to be true.

"Moreover, three of four children in the city under the age of six had immigrant backgrounds.": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt#Immigration

"Even if all migration into Europe were to immediately and permanently stop – a “zero migration” scenario – the Muslim population of Europe still would be expected to rise from the current level of 4.9% to 7.4% by the year 2050." : http://www.pewforum.org/2017/11/29/europes-growing-muslim-po...

It's true. Feel like the Umbrella Revolution was the tipping point. 2040 is only 2 decades away.

Those children born and raised in Honkong today will be original Hong Kongers eventually.

My takeaway is that its a good time to launch a pet business in Hong Kong.

And a bad time to bet on Hong Kong's long term future.


Reproducing your population is the lowest bar and requirement for a society to have a future.

I am not convinced that biological-continuation is fundamental to a society's sustenance. As long as people are willing to move into HK or any other place, it will remain a hustling and bustling city, at least for the economic purposes.

Those figures are definitely out of date - a quick back of the envelope calculation gives me over HK$1.5m for ESF P1-P13 schooling.

https://www.esf.edu.hk/school-fees/ - and it only goes up from there for the international schools.

Public schools are free in HK. Going to a private/international school (like ESF) in any other developed country would cost you as much if not more.

Also, America. At least in cities. I know a load of married couples with pampered dogs who hate kids.

Same in Finland, and from what I've heard, in most of the developed world. Many young people simply don't want to get kids, and there's probably a demographic crisis looming over the horizon. Migration will probably be used to keep increasing the population initially, but at some point we will run out of immigrants.

The way I see it, there are two ways out:

1) We accept that the population cannot keep growing forever, and prepare ourselves for a society where older people are going to be increasingly common.

2) We coerce, or force young people start breeding. I don't really know how that could be done without massive human rights violations.

There is, of course, the idea of vat-grown children, but that seems somewhat far-fetched.

I'm used to people worrying about overpopulation and too much immigration. The opposite is rather refreshing.

A lot of countries subsidise child care to some extent. That seems reasonable way to enable people to have children despite having jobs. Although obviously jobs shouldn't take up too much time either; 40 hour work weeks should be the max, and I'd really prefer to move to shorter work weeks. Otherwise what's the point of our increased productivity?

But beyond that, I think it's a good idea to prepare for a smaller population; the world population is pretty big. Figuring out a way to live here with less people doesn't seem so bad, it's just the transition we need to get used to.


Is your culture really 'strong' if a new mosque scares you?

Arguably, yes; strong personal revulsion to things outside the culture are often an element of a strong culture; its a component of what might be termed a cultural immune response.

Some of those cultural immune responses behave more like an allergy than a response to an actual threat, though. In some cases, the immune response is a bigger threat to the culture than the outside influence.


There are plenty of other problems caused by the mass-immigration policies in certain countries but people abandoning their own culture is not one of them. After all people didn't stop going to church because someone else built a mosque.

Replacing local customs and traditions with crappy Hollywood blockbusters and the US music industry is something that people have managed on their own, and it's been going on since WW2.

  We coerce, or force young people start breeding.
  I don't really know how that could be done
  without massive human rights violations.
At least in my country, there are certainly non-coercive options that could make having children more attractive.

For example, house prices are extremely high in areas with good employment prospects. In London there are literally people in their late 20s and early 30s who can't even afford to rent a flat to themselves. Let alone buy a property with a spare bedroom.

Interventions like lowering house prices in high-demand areas would allow younger couples to start having children with no human rights violations needed.

The real problem is that many people simply don't want children. There are plenty of incentives to have children here as well, but that will only change the minds of those who want children but can't afford them.

Here's another "way out":

3) Reverse the changes that led to the arrest of the population growth.

> at some point we will run out of immigrants.

We won't. Preachy, US-centered source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE

For 2) a country could implement economic incentives in the form of a graduated tax penalty for each 'missing' child under the country's replacement rate, and a tax credit for each registered dependent counting towards the rate with the taxes from the former supporting a program to fund childcare, fertility treatments, a parental stipend, etc.

I think this ought to be the default. If you don't have children, consider not having any children. If you do have children, consider not having any more. Let's pool our resources and try to give the best opportunities for the children in our communities rather than everyone trying to have children.

No, I'm not being funny or sarcastic. Humans pollute a lot. Also for the 99%, it doesn't so much matter if the world GDP continues to skyrocket. As long as we can keep productivity going up (no idea how), the 99% should be ok.

No, I'm not talking about a ban on having children or a lottery system or a qualification/licensing (at least not yet). If voluntary restraint works (and so far it looks like it), there won't be any need for coercive action.

> Let's pool our resources and try to give the best opportunities for the children in our communities rather than everyone trying to have children.

What's good for the macro is not good for the micro. For communities, we need a strong work force that enjoys entertainment, that takes care of their elders, and raises the next generation to do the same.

If you bring macro policy to the micro, you end up with desolation, a shrinking economy, decreasing home values, and nobody to do anything.

Getting people who are willing and able to act in the long term best interest of the community to avoid propagating their genetics might have some downsides...

Hardly an Asian only thing. When I lived in Vancouver, I was frequently noticing that some people were spending more money and affection on their pets than on their own children.

Seeing that made me rather uncomfortable, and contributed to my doubt of the West.

Isn't that out of pure convenience? It's just convenient not to have kids and adapt your lifestyle, because entire economy is parasitic on people having kids. Families with kids have to spend a lot more than those without (cost to parent), kids become workers and tax payers (benefit to economy). I know that in some countries there are measures to counter this imbalance, but they are a rarity.

This seems to happen in developed countries where having kids is no longer necessary to ensure one's own well-being after retirement. It might also have something to do with common lack of self-appreciation, when proud parents see their children as better versions of themselves and other people don't want any...

Cities have always been population sinks (i.e. deaths outnumber births), so I think what we're seeing is just a result of urbanisation.

> This seems to happen in developing countries

Developed countries.

Christ that seems so sad. I know I'm projecting from my life, and having kids, and all that, but holy shit.

I agree. Our generation must begin to question how a world has been created where increasingly the cost benefit analysis favours not having children. I acknowledge there’s more to it than the financial case, but the whole set of reasons needs to be factored in.

Yeah. There's a number of things that make me think we need to desperately re-evaluate things, as a species. Like hunger - we're the most advanced species on the planet, by far. World conquering, right? We've literally been to space. But hunger still exists? How?

I mean, I don't really understand how we got to this point, but now that we're here we really need to take a look around and go "Hey, is this what we're really an about?"

And the answer to that, is a good dose of misanthropy ;)

"People are shit", well, you see, not all, of course not, but a majority of shitty, poorly educated, selfish, "dishonest by default"(constantly lie to themselves and others) people are reproducing at great rate, raising further awful human beings.

Sadly at a greater rate than families to be composed of empathic people with innate positive moral bend in them are. And such people are already largely outnumbered, raising their reproductive rate will not allow outpacing the others.

They would bring positive influence to the world through their children, assuming the general ambient corruptions/experiences around them do not overpower the parents influence (do these parents even have time to impart enough of "them" to their children to make "good" people ?)

A lot of terms in "" by which I wish to indicate these are massively grey concepts that can be debated at length, but I hope to convey my general gist.

And then, maybe some people are getting put off by the exposure to negative human behavior around them and wish to surround themselves with purer creatures they cannot fault - a popular one of these beings being dogs among other pets :D

The more familiar one gets with them the more one is struck in awe at the absolute sweetness and "goodness" present in many creatures of the animal kingdom, a concentration of which through breeding is highly present in pets)

Don't think so. Selfish, "dishonest by default" tend to be attracted into business rather then having large families. Having children costs you practically. Moreover it makes harder to keep stable partner. There might be larger population of impulsive people having kids or people who never had much chance to be fulfilled by job, but "dishonest by default" I would expect more among high management and those have less kids.

Dishonest by default starts with the little things, the tons of white lies people tell themselves and each other day to day, perpetrating falsehoods which become accepted as truth by enough of their social entourage accepting and adopting these lies themselves, reinforcing each other - see immoral actions from organised structures of all kinds, from religious to governmental to simply a local village society...a classic example ostracizing and disowning a woman who had poor sexual education for falling pregnant...the whole village is behind perpetrating the lie that this is the just and moral thing to do...

How else are by example are some religious societies so far from the teachings of the books they venerate ?

I am talking about the human condition all round, not to specific first world cases. Picture countless struggling working poor, right out poor, and yes also more or less financially successful people.

Usually I would venture growing up poor, working poor, or in other forms of struggle imposed by lets say, a corrupt government regime will tend to put many of those people through a nasty time, this is not conducive to bringing the best out of people or letting good sentiments develop.

An effect of the hardship and stress of these life situations beget substance abuse and other psychological problems which get carried on down to the children through traumatic upbringing.

Most large families are by far to be found in struggling communities, for good and bad reasons...

Why? I think it's sad to have kids instead of pets.

Plus the world is going to shit. How do you justify having a child who could expect to live to about 2100 when there’s no clear guarantee that the earth will be inhabitable then?

(n.b. Of course I hope I’m wrong, and I’m doing what I can to make sure I am, buti it is a truly monstrous challenge.)

The same way that tens of billions of people have had kids for millennia with an almost clear guarantee that half of them would die before age 5.

We have ubiquitous contraception now. The default stance is to not have kids until you actively decide to have one.

In a few countries, yes, but sadly not for the majority of the world population.

Accidentally because they didn't have access to contraception? That's not the world we live in today.

High infant mortality rates / Tuberculosis / Spanish flu / AIDS, Malaria, or any other fun epidemics / Large segments of the world completely uninhabitable. Extreme social unrest due to massive influxes of "climate refugees". Worldwide food shortages. Constant war between neighboring countries. Rampant societal collapse.

One of these things is not like the others. Can you spot it?

EDIT: formatting

Actually, no, I can't? You mean uninhabitable segments of the world? As long as there are inhabitable places left, what is the difference to the survivors? People in Europe lived happily for millennia without even knowing other continents exist (and vice versa). So "amount of inhabitable space on the planet" does not seem to be an essential part of achieving human happiness.

> How do you justify having a child who could expect to live to about 2100 when there’s no clear guarantee that the earth will be inhabitable then?

How do you justify your own existence if you "know" the earth eventually won't be habitable. I have the answer for you: you hope. There's plenty of that left, it's what keeps us all going.

> How do you justify your own existence

You don't justify your own existence; that was never your own decision. You justify your decisions, and having children is a decision.

Just picking that one nit. I do agree with the importance of hope, and I chose to have children. Though I totally respect people who make a different decision.

No, survival instinct is what keeps people going.

Survival instinct is related to hope, but it isn't the same thing. Survival instinct prevents me from putting my hand in a blender, because I know it'll hurt. Hope makes me work harder in my job, care for those that I love, and look forward to tomorrow. Those things don't neatly boil down to survival instinct.

Read my full comment.

I did, but you discounted hope far to much, putting it in a parenthetical at the end. Hope is what keeps everyone going.

My personal way to deal with the question is that I decided that my kids deserve their own chance to try to survive and make a living.

Also, when I was a kid I believed I would die within 20 years because of some natural disaster (hole in the ozone layer, nuclear war where the fears of the day). People at all times seem to believe that the end of the world is just around the corner.

I know, I know - this time it is for real...

Ultimately, we all die no matter what we do, so why do anything at all?

Our kids’ chance of survival and of having a peaceful life with full stomachs has never been better.

That is true in South Korea as well.

And the planet has never been so close to destruction...

The planet is fine. The people are... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W33HRc1A6c&t=2m27s

We've always been 1 natural disaster away from total destruction

Perhaps it's the other way round and the world is going to shit because so many people don't have kids and don't care what happens in the future... Giving voters with kids additional votes for every child might be worth considering.

Sounds like a sure-fire way to accelerate idiocracy...


"Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most - and left the intelligent to become an endangered species"

Edit: For those that seem to think I'm calling people who have children stupid - idiocracy is a satirical movie. I would suggest you actually watch the link i posted (i.e. at least "read" the comment before you reply to it...)

> left the intelligent to become an endangered species

As a species, it isn't particularly intelligent to not reproduce.

I can tell you who our natural predators are: it's other people, who compete with us over wealth, resources, choice of ideology. Feeling smart and acting smart (as a group) doesn't seem to be the same thing.

Why? Are you implying that people with kids are less intelligent?

People are pretty good at rationalizing what they do already. Part of that is feeling smarter than the people who have made the opposite choice.

I don't know for supermatt, but I do !

Give me one good reason to have kids other than stupid "it's the miracle of life" bullshit, tell how it's a smart move ?

It boils down to preferences. So it is a smart move if it is in line with your preferences.

In simple terms saying people having children are not that intelligent, is like saying people preferring pizza over pasta (or other way) are dumb.

(And yes, I do think that those who think the is–ought distinction is bullshit are not that intelligent...;)

I'll take a shot and give you 4:

1. you propagate your genes

2. you likely have a backup kidney and liver for your old age

3. you have a human being that is legally required to help you out financially upon coming of age,

4. you have another person in your life that oxytocin makes you fall in love with deeply and unconditionally, and if you don't fuck it up, that love is reciprocated.

Then again, it is a lot of work, stress and there are no guarantees, but it's still as stupid as to join/found a startup (lots of work, stress, no guarantees, it basically changes you) - the main trade-off being is that your child is more likely to grow up well than your startup will become a unicorn, but you can't sell your child for a billion currency units (and i can assure you, if you're not a sociopath or mentally ill, you will not want to). So there's that.

Lucky your parents didn't think that way

Given that I was conceived in the back of a 50s Chevy by teenaged parents, my guess is that there wasn’t a whole lot of big picture thinking going on at the time.

They should have... Imagine all the money they spended on me ?

Read arpa's response.

Did you even watch the video link?

If you're confident you're smart, why not fight idiocracy by having kids ?

Humans breeding like rabbits is a _really_ bad thing in the long run. Contributing to that will only make the problem worse, and most intelligent people realise that.

The solution is to discourage the "idiots" from having kids in the first place -- not to compete with them.

Western countries don't have overpopulation problem. Like, we don't have it at all.

Being overfocused on imaginary problem is not solution to existing problems.

>The solution is to discourage the "idiots" from having kids in the first place

Eugenics have been tried several times, all over the world, and both produced terrible abuses - especially of disenfranchised social groups - and also failed miserably.

Please, let's not.

Of course not, as always, the problem would be to decide who gets to decide that certain people are idiots. History tells us that we're not very good at chosing the right ones for the job. :)

We will need as many humans as we can physically support in order to have a chance of surviving beyond earth.

I've seen the god damn movie.

So just trolling then. Gotcha.

>Plus the world is going to shit. How do you justify having a child who could expect to live to about 2100 when there’s no clear guarantee that the earth will be inhabitable then?

People had kids all through the worse times -- not just accidentally as some implied here, they actively wanted and had kids.

The "climate change" etc excuses are just excuses (the same could have been said in the 10s after the Spanish flu toll, in the 30s about the unstable world politics, in the 50s to 80s about the possible "nuclear holocaust", and so on).

Or does somebody believe the billions having kids today are "bad people" and they're some kind of enlightened figure?

Yes, this is one of many reasons I won't be having children. Couldn't live with myself knowing that they're going to have a worse life than I've had. Reproducing is also the worst possible thing you could do given our current situation anyway so I won't be part of it. I feel better knowing that even if I am living an unsustainable life (which I certainly am despite being very frugal) at least it ends with me.

> Reproducing is also the worst possible thing you could do given our current situation anyway

This is absolutely false if you live north of the poverty line and are educated and wealthy (by world standards), which if you're commenting here, you probably are.

Have kids or not, but don't delude yourself into thinking that it's bad. Rich people not having kids is literally the worst thing you can do with regards to children-based decisions on the effect of the state of the world.

Rich or not they'll still make traffic worse and I'll have to wait in line longer at shops.

How can I bring a child into the world when it appears likely that the child will suffer greatly?

The West hasn't really grappled with this question yet, but give it 15 years - when climate breakdown starts seriously affecting quality of life - and I expect the birthrate to crash.

> How can I bring a child into the world when it appears likely that the child will suffer greatly?

Suffer from what exactly? In my family, half of my father's siblings and cousins died from war and hunger, the rest also had to hide from constant bombing and assaults, in fact my grandmother's village was wiped completely from the map. Yet they have tried their best to build the country so that now I can type this comment, safe from any kinds of harm. I consider it is my duty to do the same for the next generation. IMO the society should support families with kids more, as they are nurturing the future of mankind, literally.

Previous generations lived with the threat of war, famine, infectious disease.

Now we live with the threat of server climate change, that many people believe is likely to lead to war, famine, and infectious disease.

Nice arguments. I never thought about it that way.

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