After Independence in 1965, the population of the country was growing at a rate that would seriously threaten the success of Singapore. The Government introduced the “Stop at two” policy to help control the rapid population growth. It was introduced in 1969. The policy had a very successful response; in fact, it was so successful that the population started to decline. Couples saw the benefits in having a smaller family, such as more money, higher quality of life and cars. The population increase stayed low. Women started to pursue careers before having children.
With a rise in University graduated women failing to marry and bear children, the policy “three or more, if you can afford it” was introduced because the Singaporean government saw this as a social problem. It was introduced in 1986. The policy has been described as ‘population rejuvenation’. Its goal was to address the ageing of Singapore, which was threatening the country’s quality of life. It was quite effective at first but despite the government’s slew of measures including longer maternity leave and cash incentives, the Total Fertility Rate plummeted from 1. 6 in 2000 to 1. 3 last year. This is a far cry from the 2. 1 needed for the population to replace itself. Families are having less children due to the following reasons: High cost of living, insecurity of jobs, high cost and burden of educating the child, no fun for children to take the pressure of childhood. Low birth rates means that the government will continue to be more liberal in allowing foreigners to come here as PRs or citizens. And, unlike the times of our forefathers, Singapore today is unlikely to allow the naturalization the peasant, the construction worker or the cleaning lady.
The Singapore government wants talents, or in the absence of talent, rich people. The natural result is that native Singaporeans get squeezed in the job markets and the housing markets. Young Singaporeans like myself are now squeezed particularly hard in the housing markets because these PRs or new citizens come in either not knowing the local real estate market or having too much cash to burn, start offering high prices for property, driving property prices upwards. As for the employment landscape, that doesn’t need much explaining; it’s a demand and supply problem.
I think that the Government should promote more of the benefits of having children – joy and laughters of the children through different media (T. V. , radio, internet etc. ). The more the Government emphasises on the family life and support the birth rate, it will help to increase the birth rate. There should be more television shows about families. The mindset of parents is important. When we think of raising children is very expensive, it will not encourage us to have children. The joy of having children cannot be measured by the cost or spending on the children.
We need to see beyond the money cost of having children as children are the bundle of joy and gift from God. Companies should not be bias on employing pregnant women and the government should change the policy again to state that as long as a woman is pregnant, the company that terminal her should pay up the four months maternity leave instead of the current one that states it’s only liable if it’s 6 months form due dates. A declining fertility rate also affects the social structure of a nation. As less and less people are having families, social networks are affected and support within the family unit changes.
Where previously children may have provided a support network for their parents, in many cases, older, childless Singaporeans may turn to the government to assist in providing this network. With an increase in the number of one to two person households with steady income which is often relatively high, standards of living increase for these households, where standards for families with dependants may struggle to keep up. This will then lead to even further decreases in birth rates as couples postpone having a family based on their financial circumstances. It’s not just the jobs and ever rising property prices.
Later on, the kids of native Singaporeans are going to face fiercer competition for good Singaporean schools. Parents will have to end up forking more money for tuition classes and other enrichment classes to improve the odds of their kids getting into a good school. The PRs and new citizens will probably do the same thing too, so the only winners will be tuition teachers. Encourage companies to let women work from home. A change of mindset from the work force is very much needed for families to want to have more children. More children equals more money needed, especially in the country like Singapore.
Stay home mom wants to stay home to take good care of kids and they also want to stay economically. Nobody is going to take care of the kids, nurture them, giving them a good solid foundation if all moms go out to work. Right now parents get the following: A cash gift of $3,000 each for 1st and 2nd child, a cash gift of $6,000 each for 3rd and 4th child, 2nd to 4th children will also enjoy government contributions in the form of a dollar-for-dollar matching for the amount of savings you contribute to your child’s Children Development Account (CDA).
This is a special savings account that you open at any POSB branch. You can save in the CDA any time until the day before the child’s 6th birthday. The savings will be matched up to the cap of $6,000 for the 2nd child and $12,000 each for the 3rd and 4th child. Another significant effect of a declining birth rate is a reduced workforce which can equal decreased productivity for a nation. A decrease in the size of the workforce will reduce the capacity of the economy to maintain rates of output growth which in turn puts pressure on the existing workforce to increase productivity and performance.
A smaller workforce also means a smaller tax base which in turn can place further pressure on the social security system; less people of working age means less revenue collected by the government in taxes to support a proportionately large aged population. Each of these effects – a negative workplace dependency ratio and a reduced workforce – points to the growth of the aged population. A falling fertility rate accompanied by increasing longevity and a low aged mortality means that the proportion of older groups in society is growing.
This is a widely publicised issue in most developed countries and can have significant impact on the economy and social support systems. As the aged population increases, so too does the need for increased spending on areas such as aged care, health and income support, especially in societies where the working age population is not encouraged to prepare or save for their retirement. This can prove to be a significant drain on resources and the general economy. As the population aged 65 and over increases in size, associated social expenditures on income support, care and health services can be expected to increase. months maternity leave for mum, 3 days of paternity leave on the birth of your first four children. 5 days of unrecorded childcare leave, must be substantiated by the child’s MC. Maid levy reduction of $95 if you have kids under 12. And since the birth rates are falling so drastically, the government should redouble their efforts by doubling everything that they are doing right now. We could follow the Swede way to generate children. First, all parents get 13 months of leave, and continue to receive 80 per cent of their pay – with the cost borne by both the state and employers.
On top of this, they can opt for another three months, though they will get just $40 a day during this time. Second, they get tiered child allowances – from 105 euros (S$225) a month for the first child, to 190 euros for the fourth child. Thirdly, childcare is “very affordable”, capped at $30 a month. In contrast, childcare costs here average $670 a month. In fact more childcare centres should be built around office areas so mothers or fathers can look after them more easily instead of hiring a maid which will make them more dependent on maids and miss out family bonding with their children.
Free (or even more greatly subsidised) post-secondary education for the third and fourth children; Free (or even more greatly subsidised) medical care for the third and fourth children, up to a certain age or ceiling. Nominal or token pension for parents (or for at least the one parent who has given up his or her job to care for children full time) with more than two children upon statutory retirement age; and more significant tax reliefs for working couples who have, in addition to more than two children, aged parents.
The Baby Bonus was definitely a step in the right direction, as evinced by a slight increase in birth rates in recent years. Putting additional measures such as these suggestions in place will go even further towards alleviating some of the pressures and insecurities couples face in deciding whether to have more children. The government should sponsor another matchmaking effort through a Social Development Unit, like a few years back. The aim, to ‘romance Singapore’. It had a month-long festival in the Valentine’s period was introduced to try to bring people together.
Other measures included rock climbing for couples, a love boat river race, and a vertical marathon called ‘lovers’ challenge’ etc. New laws should be enacted to prevent employers from dismissing women because of marriage, pregnancy or childbirth. This should help push up the birth rate, as more women are going to be able to marry, have children and keep earning money. A good way to get Singaporeans to produce more babies is to improve gender equality, and how can we support more active fathering?
The “Dads for Life” national campaign is a commendable initiative of the National Family Council and a step in the right direction. Traditional gender roles not only deprive men of the opportunity to play an active role in their children’s lives but create an imbalanced environment where women are discouraged from having more kids. I am quite sure that these measures if implemented can improve our situation on the declining birthrates. Monetary incentives, tax incentives, more maternity leave, paternity leave, and the other solutions.