During a recent house visit, one family spoke to Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) about the issues that larger families in Singapore face, including housing and transport concerns.
The MP, an Associate Professor in Economics at ESSEC Business School, noted in a Sept 9 Facebook post that large families are unusual in the country “where our fertility rate hovers at around one child per woman” and that the issues discussed by the Anchorvale family were somewhat of a “more niche concern.”
Nevertheless, he noted that understanding the specific challenges a family with three or more children may provide additional perspectives as to how the country could change pro-family policies “beyond offering modest (in the grand scheme of things) monetary incentives for additional children, or priority in housing allocation.”
This would entail “accounting for how daily life can be made easier for families that comprise five or more, instead of three or four,” he added.
Assoc Prof Lim gave the example of car ownership as a specific challenge for larger families. While a household with one or two children only need a regular sedan, a larger family would need a seven-seater vehicle, which has a more expensive Certificate of Entitlement (COE), the mandatory license that grants someone the right to own a vehicle in Singapore for ten years.
In June, a record of $104,400 was set for just for a COE bid, the Land Transport Authority said, which is a separate amount from the price of the vehicle itself.
The Sengkang MP cited housing as another example of an issue facing larger families. He wore that families wishing to upgrade from a five-room flat could purchase a condominium unit, which are pricier but don’t always have more room.
“Now, it is important to stress—as this family did—that such households aren’t looking for special treatment, per se. But that doesn’t mean that a society cannot design policies to help such families out,” Assoc Prom Lim added.
He suggested that special dispensation could perhaps be given to larger families to obtain COEs under the category for regular cars, or that the HDB could revive four-bedroom executive apartments, “to allow such families an opportunity for a larger BTO flat, rather than having to rely on the pricier (and more limited) resale market.”