National / Social Issues

Many parents say employers, finances deter them from having second child

Kyodo, Staff Report

A survey has found that three-quarters of parents cite economic and social obstacles to having a second child.

The poll released last month by a Tokyo-based organization called 1 more Baby that encourages couples to become parents, found that 86.5 percent feel they can’t afford two children and 64.7 percent of full-time working mothers cited “work reasons” as discouraging them from having a second child.

“The (central) government, municipalities and companies need to cooperate with each other” to correct this, said Kai Akiyama, the group’s executive director.

“Given that the workplace has the biggest impact on employees’ work-life balance, support at work is highly important and requires understanding from supervisors as well as co-workers,” Akiyama said.

The online survey of 604 men and 2,357 women who have been married for 14 years or less was conducted at the end of April. The men were aged 20 to 49 and women 20 to 39. All respondents have been using the group’s services and responded via Facebook.

It was the third year running that the group conducted a survey of this kind, and its findings echo those of a health ministry survey conducted in 2014 that also found parents hesitant about having a second child.

In the latest study, 43 percent said they found the first child too much work, while 42 percent said either they or their spouse was now too old to have a second child.

Around 38 percent of respondents who felt hesitant to have a second child cited work-related reasons, including whether the company was easygoing about letting them take maternity and paternity leave.

The number of full-time working mothers who cited work-related deterrents to having a second child jumped to 64.7 percent from 38.3 percent last year.

Asked what measures would encourage them to have a second child, 81 percent said financial support to cover childbirth, child-rearing and educational costs. But 45 percent cited better support at work, including companies allowing women to take maternity leave, while 44 percent called for improvement in working conditions, such as shorter hours, which would allow parents to have a more comfortable work-life balance.

Among respondents who are full-time working mothers, 75 percent said their superiors at work were supportive of their child-rearing situation, suggesting that such an environment would encourage them to continue working there.

Asked about the ideal size of a family, 48 percent said two children, while 28 percent said three and 3 percent said four or more. Only 15 percent said that raising one child would be ideal, while 5 percent said they did not want a child at all. Nearly all respondents who had two or more children said they were satisfied with their decision.