By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

The media reported today that more Singaporeans are delaying their marriage so that they can build their careers to earn more money first (‘No money, no getting married: many delaying to build careers first‘).

This is shown by a recent marriage statistics from the Department of Statistics (DOS), which recorded that the median age at first marriage for men rose from 29.8 years in 2005 to 30.3 years in 2015 while that for women rose from 26.9 years to 28.2 years.

Those interviewed said they had delayed their marriage so that they can save as much money as possible to keep up with the high cost of living in Singapore. Many said they had to save up before committing to marriage because of the high costs involved. These include the wedding reception, buying a house, renovation and children.

Mr Kiat Ng, 37, who married only three years ago at 34, said that he was broke after finishing his diploma at 26. With no money then, he found it hard to think about marriage. “The thought of getting married would cross my mind. I would remember that I had no money, and then I’d forget it,” said Mr Ng.

And with women marrying later or not marrying, Singapore’s fertility rate has been severely affected. “These high late or non-marriage rates are the main reasons why the overall fertility rates in Singapore are low,” said an NUS Prof from the sociology department.

As a result, the government started adopting an open door immigration policy to import more foreigners into Singapore.

Wedding and housing costs

A financial blogger did some calculations and came up with an estimated minimum figure of about $76,000 upfront cash for a couple to have a wedding and buy a 4-room HDB flat (‘How much money is needed to get married and start a family in Singapore?‘). The costs include:

• Wedding Package (wedding dress, evening gown, photo shoots, wedding album, photo frame)
• Wedding Bands/Rings
• Wedding solemnization (rental of gown, photographer and videographer, bridesmaid dresses rentals and so on)
• Wedding Banquet (30 tables for $1000-$1200 each)
• Honeymoon
• Down payment for new 4 room flat
• Renovation & miscellaneous fees
• Buying of furniture and household items

Said the blogger, “Most couples will have to share half of the cost each. So it’s $38,000 cash for each person if they spend $76,000 in total. If you plan to get married in 3 years time, you’ll roughly need to save $12,700 per year per person.”

“This brings me to the point that you need roughly 3 years to prepare and save up in order to start a family. That’s if you can save roughly $12k per year. If you can’t, then give yourself a longer time to prepare.”

He estimated that typically it would take about 3-4 years for a couple to save up and plan for their marriage, because of the costs as outlined above.

The $900,000 Singapore child

Some time ago, Joseph Chong, a former CEO of a financial advisory firm, wrote an ST article, providing figures to back up why many couples do not even wish to have children (‘The cost to raise a child in Singapore is $900,000‘).

According to Mr Chong, a family would need to spent $600,000 in real dollars to raise a child for a 1-child family. It takes $500,000 for each child in the case of a two-child family. Thus, for a two child family, it means $1,000,000 less in retirement money for the parents.

Assuming $500,000 per child, there is another additional $400,000 paid by tax payers because of state subsidy. Thus, the cost to raise a child in Singapore is a whopping $900,000. This ‘subsidy’ includes the imputed rental of the government schools.

Another reason why the cost of raising the child is so expensive is because of the existence of the parallel education system in Singapore – private tuition. In 2007, the private tuition was already a $1.2 billion industry representing 17% of the MOE’s own budget.

When everyone else is sending their kids for tuition, one would inevitably get caught up with it.

Some couples then probably decide to forego having kids cause it would be just too painful for them to raise kids in Singapore.

Growth of foreign population continues to outstrip that of Singaporeans

Meanwhile, the government continues to import foreigners into Singapore to make up for the shortfall. From 2014 to 2015, total population increased from 5,469,724 to 5,535,002 (1.2%).

However, the Singaporean population only grew by 1% from 3,343,030 to 3,375,023.

On the other hand, foreign population, including PRs, grew by 1.6% from 2,126,694 to 2,159,979.

If PRs were excluded, the foreign population was found to have actually grown by 2.1% from 1,598,985 to 1,632,312.

But most foreigners are just treating Singapore as a pit-stop. They would rather settle somewhere else to have kids than the high-cost ladden Singapore.