PETALING JAYA: Despite the challenges of raising children, Malaysians are still big on having bigger families than their peers in other parts of the world, a survey indicates.
The survey by international research outfit Ipsos found that most Malaysian families want at least three children compared with just two among couples in northeast Asia as well as in Singapore.
Ipsos Malaysia head of public affairs Wan Nuradiah Wan Mohd Rani said this figure was “substantially higher” than in most countries.
On average, the ideal number of children for a Malaysian couple is 3.2, second only to Saudi Arabia, which comes in at an average of 3.6. The global average is 2.3.
In contrast, couples in China and South Korea show the lowest desire to have children. Both came in with a 1.9 average, while Britain and Japan came home with a 2.1 average, which is equivalent to the replacement rate.
A total of 20,524 adults, aged 16 to 74 from 30 countries, responded to the questions online. About 500 of them were from Malaysia.
Among couples who have chosen not to have a child, or more children if they already have one or two, Covid-19 emerges as a major factor in their decision-making process.
A total of 26% of Malaysians cited the pandemic and the resulting economic fallout as a reason, making it their biggest consideration. At the global level, only 11% of couples cite this as a reason.
Only 13% of Malaysian couples cited concerns about their careers as a factor for not having children, while 9% take into consideration their partner’s career needs when making such a decision.
This compares with the global average of 6% and 5% respectively.
“The decision to have children while building a career is often seen as a trade off, especially for women,” said Wan Nuradiah.
“Although caring responsibilities are expected to have more of an adverse effect on a woman’s career, it’s not completely one-sided. Many Malaysians consider it a challenge that men face as well.”