In a speech she delivered on Population at the Committee of Supply on February 28, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo highlighted key improvements in Singapore’s fertility rate as well as continuing government efforts to support marriage and raising one’s family.
“We must actively lean against the wind to make marriage and parenthood achievable, enjoyable and celebrated,” Minister Teo said.
Minister Teo noted that Singaporeans working and living overseas also welcomed 1,500 new babies yearly over the last five years.
These recent data showed a significant increase in the fertility rate. 2009 to 2013 had an average of 31,400 annual births while the five years before it averaged 32,000 births.
Marriage rates are also higher though many are opting to marry later. The Marriage and Parenthood survey showed that 8 in 10 single millennials expressed a desire to find a partner and get married while more than 9 in 10 married couples said they wanted two or more children.
However, Singaporeans’ desire to settle down and start a family is affected by their long hours of work. They now take longer to get married, so they go past the prime child-bearing age.
“We believe this explains the recent drop in Singapore’s total fertility rate (TFR), to 1.16 in 2017 and 1.14 last year. But, given the positive marriage trends, I remain hopeful that there could be an uptick in TFR when the children of the baby boomers start having babies themselves.”
International organization Save the Children cited Singapore as the best country for a child to grow up. Another study concluded that, “Singapore would be where their human capital potential is most likely to be optimized” as Minister Teo said in her speech.
Minister Teo provided ways in which the government would continue to support marriage and child-rearing for Singaporeans.
Such measures include: easier process to owning homes, greater financial support for raising children, better access to affordable and quality early childhood education, and improved provisions for parents’ work-life balance.
Regarding issues of immigration, she highlighted government efforts to ensure fair granting of citizenship and permanent residency permits to migrants.
“In all cases, we consider applicants’ age, family profile, economic contributions, as well as their ability to integrate, among other factors. We look for markers of rootedness and identification with Singapore’s way of life, values and norms.”