Malaysians delay having more children on pandemic, survey shows


A STUDY by Ipsos Group SA revealed that Malaysian families believe that the pandemic has had a particular impact on the prospects of starting or extending a family.

Based on the survey, 26% of Malaysians agree that concern on the Covid-19 has affected their decision such as delaying having more children compared to 11% in other countries.

Apart from Covid-19, other reasons include existing caring responsibilities, which 18% believes affect the intentions of extending family, 13% are afraid the decision will impact their career, while 12% are concern about political stability.

According to the survey, Malaysians, in general, prefer a larger family and the ideal number is above three considerably higher than many of other global peers.

Countries such as Singapore, the US and Australia on average prefer two or less children.

This is based on the survey among 20,524 online adults aged 16 to 74 across 30 countries and Malaysia sample of 500 respondents.

In terms of thinking having an extended family can be damaging to their career, Malaysians think both genders are facing constraints when choosing to have kids.

The survey noted that the choice to have kids, in particular, is a career-impacting choice, and even though family care is more associated with constraints on women’s career prospects, it does apply to men as well.

In this regard, 28% believes childcare responsibilities will affect women’s career, 45% said it is equally damaging for both genders or has no damage while only 15% believes men’s career will be affected while having children.

Through prioritising the family over work, 20% of respondents agreed it will affect women’s career, while 49% said it will not give much impact and equal for both.

Whereas, when working from home regularly, 60% respondents agreed that this equally affects or brings no damage for both genders.

“People around the world think differently about what the ideal family should look like. Malaysians’ preferred number of children is more than three, substantially higher than in most countries,” Ipsos Malaysia head of public affairs Wan Nuradiah said in a statement.

“In countries like Japan, China and South Korea where the population growth is stagnating or declining, the preferred number of children is below the replacement rate.”

She added that the reasons why people choose to delay or not to have children, varies broadly from personal choice to macro level factors such as political instability.

“However, the emergence of Covid has added an extra element of uncertainty and in Malaysia, concerns about the pandemic are the primary reason for delaying or deciding against having a child or adding another child,” she stated in the study.

In addition, she noted that the decision to have children while building a career is often seen as a trade off, and especially for women.

“Although caring responsibilities are expected to have more of an adverse effect on women’s career, it’s not completely one-sided — many Malaysians consider it a challenge that men face as well,” she said.

Among other reasons Malaysians have that will affect the decision to have children is because respondents want to complete their education (10%), unable to have children for medical reasons (9%) and relationship breakdown (7%).