Targeting and Mistargeting of Family Policies in High-Income Pacific Asian Societies: A Review of Financial Incentives

Mengni Chen, Stuart Gietel-Basten, Paul S.F. Yip

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Scopus citations


    Very low fertility rates can be found in many high-income Pacific Asian societies, such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. Governments in these territories have already taken pronatalist policies but with only modest effects, especially when measured by overall total fertility rate. Mistargeting has been cited as a potential explanation for this impact. To explore this notion in greater depth, we first identify the potential target groups that are most influential in changing the TFR for the five societies, based on a stochastic model and fertility elasticity analyses. Then we examine the targeting of current pronatalist policies, especially financial incentives and marriage policies. The analyses show that marriage rates, especially among women aged 25–29 are the most influential factor in shaping contemporary TFRs. Third and higher order births are insignificant in changing the fertility trajectories for all the five places. Besides, there are also territory-specific patterns. For Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, first births (especially among women aged 30–34) are the second most influential factor; for South Korea, second births (especially among women aged 30–34) actually play a very important role, next only to marriage; for Japan, first- and second births are much less influential while marriage is an overwhelmingly essential factor of fertility. Furthermore, the review of financial incentives in these places reveals the mismatch between the targeting suggested by our analysis and the targeting implied by current policy measures. The mistargeting, piecemeal measures and the low level of financial support may be partly responsible for the ineffectiveness of the governmental action.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)389-413
    Number of pages25
    JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


    • Elasticity
    • Hong Kong
    • Japan
    • Pronatalist measures
    • Singapore
    • South Korea
    • Taiwan
    • Total fertility rate


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