Why is the birth rate so low?
1) High Education. When the educational level of women goes up, the birth rate typically goes the opposite way. Research has shown that fertility rates tend to be higher in lesser developed countries. Poverty and poor living conditions increase the likelihood of having many children. Education amongst females is essential to women having fewer children, and later. This can be attributed to using more contraception. Children conceived by higher educated women tend also to be raised healthier, resulting in these children staying in school longer. The cycle perpetuates and repeats, and over time, society that becomes more prosperous also experience a decline in the number of babies born.
2) High Stress. This one is easy. Women, as well as men, when under duress tend to stay at work longer to accomplish all the tasks that have been assigned to them. This leaves them with less time to tend to family matters and household chores. With less time available, many of these women are having a more difficult time meeting the opposite sex and starting meaningful relationships. The end result is that professional women dedicate their lives and aspirations to those of their employers, and relegate child rearing to the bottom of their to-do list.
3) High Income. With higher disposable income that comes with the territory of well-paid professional jobs, women increase their expectations with regard to their social status and material goods. In addition, they are less willing to marry down to men who have less education and wealth compared to them. Singapore has high remunerations for those professionals at the top of the heap, including its ministerial politicians. In fact, I would argue that Lee Hsien Loong’s salary is way too high.
Implications of low birth rate on NS
National Service was founded on the intent by the founding fathers to fortify Singapore’s ability to defend itself against enemy threats. NS was necessary during the formative years, and one could argue that it might be needed now, but its implementation leaves a lot to be desired, especially for those citizens intending to emigrate to foreign lands. You can read it about this topic here.
*Disclaimer. The next few paragraphs hinge on the assumption that NS is still necessary.
There are a few ways to counter dwindling barrack numbers due to Singapore’s low birth rate.
1) Increase the number of citizens and permanent residents. The PAP has decided, without consulting the populace, that it is best for the city state to have 6.9 million residents by 2030. Now usually this is not a bad idea for a country 100 times that of Singapore, but in a limited land space, this leads to severe congestion and unliveable conditions. Now at a population 5.5 million, there has been an increase in anti-foreigner sentiments due to recent immigration policies that freely grants citizenships and permanent residents to immigrants from China and India.
2) Instead of dumping NS liability on locally born males, the PAP could decree that all new permanent residents be subject to the Enlistment Act if they are between 16.5 and 40 years of age. Currently only the male children of these new permanent residents are required to serve NS, and even then about 33% of these NS-liable males give up their PR status in order to avoid NS.
3) Finally, what I’m proposing has already been done in other parts of the world. Currently, Israel, Eritrea and Norway have mandatory conscription for women. Singapore should consider this option because less of its women population are having children due to higher education, stress and income. This means that Singaporean women have come a long way to attaining equality with their male counterparts. If one of the reasons why women were not conscripted was because it was their duty to conceive, then by all reasoning Singaporean women who elect not to have children, irregardless of their marriage status, are then required to serve NS. They will then be subject to the liabilities that locally born Singaporean males with regard to NS and their inability to renounce their citizenship prior to serving NS. See my article on NS defaulters who are not able to return to Singapore even after 40 years of age. Many Singaporean women who have obtained foreign citizenships have thus far being able to travel in and out of Singapore freely, using any of their passports, Singaporean or otherwise. With the Enlistment Act being forced down on women, they no longer would be able to leave the city state easily or freely. They would now have to apply for Exit Permits if they need to be away from Singapore for more than 14 days. Women would also be required to come back for reservist training annually up to 40 years of age for non commissioned officers, and 50 years of age for officers.
Perhaps when the PAP does decide to force NS down the throats of women would the entire populace help them decide to abolish NS and opt for a professional military force.
*The author blogs at http://renounce-sg.blogspot.com