Happy Chinese New Year! A couple of days ago millions of people celebrated the start of the spring season and the new year both in Asia and in expat communities throughout the world.  The new year is an auspicious one – the Dragon is considered the luckiest sign in the Chinese zodiac and represents wealth and power.  According to the AFP:

“The dragon is the most favourable and revered sign in the 12-year Chinese zodiac – a symbol of royalty, fortune and power that is also used in other cultures that see in the Lunar New Year, such as in Vietnam.”

It is no surprise therefore that many couples wish to have their babies born this year so that their children may benefit from some of the Dragon’s lucky properties.

“…hospitals across China and in Chinese communities are bracing for a baby boom as couples try to have a child this year.

Nannies in Beijing and neighbouring Tianjin are charging more in 2012, and the beds in the capital’s maternity hospital are all booked up until August, according to the official Xinhua news agency.”

Elsewhere, it is hoped that the year of the Dragon will provide a much-needed demographic boon:

“Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong even took advantage of the Dragon to call on the country’s residents to boost a stubbornly low birth rate, in an attempt to reduce the government’s heavy reliance on foreign workers.

‘I fervently hope that this year will be a big Dragon Year for babies … this is critical to preserve a Singapore core in our society,’ he said in his new year message.”

Singapore has a birth rate of just over one child per woman – about half the natural replacement rate – and the third lowest in the world (in front of Hong Kong and Macau). I think that it may take more than an upward blip every twelve years to lift the birth rate in any meaningful way.  However, I wish Singapore all the best and may the year of the Dragon be a successful, happy and fulfilling one for everyone and may many couples experience the joy of having a new addition to their family this year!

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...