Fertility Woes

In Singapore Politics, Uncategorized on August 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

Apparently, people here aren’t having children because it’s too expensive.

That’s true, considering I walked down the diaper aisle at NTUC the other day and realised that diapers cost a shitload of money (pun intended). Everything in Singapore is expensive–housing, cars, diapers, daycare fees, you name it. On top of that, we’ve got the world’s longest working hours–one in five Singaporeans work more than eleven hours daily. Bottom line, Singapore doesn’t provide a family-oriented environment that encourages citizens to start families.

We’ve heard enough bloggers bemoan the rising cost of living as a reason for the low birth rate, and maybe we’re barking up the wrong tree.

Perhaps choosing not to have kids has become a fashionable trend for people, and lowering the cost of living isn’t going to help our low fertility. Yes, it has been mentioned that gender equality has led to women having more control over their lifestyle choices like getting married and having children. And since an increased percentage receive tertiary education, more women now tend to prioritize their career over starting a family. I don’t think this reason has been given enough credit. If celibacy is now a fashionable trend and if fewer people appreciate the joy of having kids, then lowering the cost of living isn’t the solution.

Gone are the days when marriage and having children were “compulsory milestones”. Maybe it’s time for us to accept that Singapore isn’t that traditional and conservative anymore. With globalisation, we’ve become so Westernized that marriage and starting a family is just one of the many lifestyle choices that are, well, optional. And that’s not a bad thing.

I concede that we still need to make the cost of living cheaper so that more Singaporeans become financially stable. However, I don’t think we should expect the fertility rate to miraculously increase when things get more affordable. Societal ideals have changed with time and our population trend will change along with it. It doesn’t mean we’ll “fold up” like LKY says; it just means we have to look deeper for the solution.

  1. that was well written and do u agree that the reason why raising a child is expensive is probably because a small country like ours cannot support a rapidly growing population? or do u have any other ideas?

    • Thanks for commenting! Raising a child in Singapore is expensive because the cost of living in itself is expensive. And yes, high cost of living is partly due to our extremely small size i.e. because our land supply is way below what is in demand, naturally the cost of land is very expensive. So everything from housing, rental fees for shops, goods and services end up costing a lot as well. BUT I don’t think we’re doing enough as a country to bring down the cost of living–frankly, I think our policies with regard to ministerial pay, housing as well as COEs only exacerbate the problem unnecessarily. Yet, when it comes to raising the fertility rate and so on, we cannot neglect the possibility that it’s merely a “fashion” not to have kids and to be more career-oriented, and lowering the cost of living has little or nothing to do with it.

      • that is very true. but what you said about high cost of living- i think that is mostly because since our land is restricted, housing is a killer. and the way i see it, singapore may very well be on its way to implementing a similar law to china’s one-child policy, or maybe one just like it. any comment on that?

        ur welcome, btw. 🙂

      • probably not a one-child policy, since we’re currently trying to increase our birth rate. we’re suffering from a very low replacement rate, so the government is desperately trying to encourage people to have more children, not less.

  2. And yet it is financially burdening.

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