THE TEMASEK TIMES

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Solve the root cause of our population woe: Reluctance of young Singaporeans to have more children

Posted by temasektimes on June 5, 2012

The root cause of our problems is low birth rate. We have to examine, why is there low birth rate? Stop at 2 policy is one of the reason, but more importantly is the cost of living in Singapore.

I agree that economically, an aging population will force the economy to slowly move towards a liquidity trap — the case of the Japanese economy. But that is no excuse to importing foreigners blindly.

We should raise population replacement rate through improving birth rates, and to come up with a viable solution, we need to understand the reasons why young people do not want to give birth. Cost of upbringing is one, cost doesn’t just ends with the monetary cost of education, necessities etc. But also involves the cost of ‘attention’ that parents need to devote to the upbringing of the child.

Most young families have the husband and wife working, and having more kids would means higher more attention requirement hence more stress. But the living cost in today’s typical middle income family is so high, that it is inevitable for both husband wife to go out to work, and even if a family can afford to have one of the couple staying at home to look after the kids, they are not likely to have more, because, by having more kids would means higher financial burden, and it might imply that by adding one more, the family would no longer be able to afford to have the mother of father staying at home as homemaker.

This further discourage families to have more kids. It’s a complicated mess really. Imho, we should work on 3 key areas to resolve this complicated mess gradually: 1) slowdown the economic growth. we are moving too fast. We’ve been to ambitious. It’s like a company who always strive to be the best in its industry, but is facing serious manpower shortage, yet the sales department still relentlessly prospect more sales until a stage where the operation side cannot take it. ‘Sales department’, in our country’s context, is too motivated to bring in more ‘sales’, i.e, higher gdp, for simple reason, their income is dependent on it!

That’s why we say, there’s a problem in the pay system of ministers, there’s an apparent conflict of interest! This needs to be tweaked. 2) cost of housing needs to be lowered. I’ve told many friends, the hike in property prices in local property market is not a bubble. It is triggered by real demand in the real economy.

The cooling measures are not very effective because they are dealing with the hike as though they are bubbles! The speculative component is negligible, and my evidence is population growth. If we look at the population growth rate versus the rate which property prices increase, we will see that it is entirely normal for the market to behave this way.

From an economy with 3 million population some 10 years ago to 5 million. a 66% hike in population. Comparing this to property prices, it is of little surprise for property market to behave this way.

To overcome housing tension, 2 ways: increase supply, cut demand. Increase supply through enbloc, building taller buildings etc, reduce demand growth rate through limiting foreign immigrants. Use creative ways to encourage big families to stay together by offering housing grants, perks etc to families who purchases bigger HDB such as jumbo units, where more than 2 family nuclei are staying together. This encourage family bonding, which also act as a catalyst to motivate birth rate as well. 3) provide more reasons for employers to employ locals. CPF contribution rate please reduce.

Minimum sum in CPF, please reduce. Interest in CPF, please increase, at least whatever abnormal profit that GIC enjoys, please redistribute back to CPF account holders. GIC should not retain those profits, they belong to the real savers. CPF flexibility, please enhance. Please allow CPF to be used not only in housing, but also in other aspects such as REAL life insurance, REAL medical insurance, paying of school fees for our children.

There are many more possibilities, but whenever such proposal are bring up, what the govt is to shun and shut their ears and regarded all these as ‘white noise’ and have zero respect over all these proposals. Often, blaming the proposer as ‘naive’ or ‘lacking in research evidence’, ‘fail to look at the big picture (as if they’ve got immortal ability that enables them to look at the big picture better)’ etc.

Instead of criticizing, when have they seriously look into these possibilities and take a more humble approach to all these feedbacks? Just hope that that can STOP GIVING EXCUSES AND LISTEN. And the best way out is, imho, get a co-driver to slap on the driver and wake him up and face all these real problems and study these solutions propose seriously and STOP BEING SO SELF-CENTRED AND GIVING EXCUSES TO AVOID CONFRONTING THESE PROBLEMS.

K C BOO

*The above was first posted as a comment on Facebook

20 Responses to “Solve the root cause of our population woe: Reluctance of young Singaporeans to have more children”

  1. MrBenCai said

    The real reason for the low birth rate is because adults are too busy writing length articles online and not making love.

  2. P Koh said

    Thank you KC Boo for putting up some good suggestions and I hope the Government is aware that solutions must be worked out asap to address the many issues that the country is facing. In the past there were task forces initiated during the financial crises and even if this is not termed a financial crises but it remains a critical crises and cannnot be swept under the carpet. Low population growth is imminent as it is no longer cheap to raise children with cost of living sky-rocketing and housing beyond the reach of young married couples and there is also a need for balance in life for some pleasure like travelling to widen ones horizon besides slogging 8 to 12 hours in the office. No quick fix but as you have pointed out judiciously that the government must take a more humble approach and attack the problems one at a time till sanity returns to this beautiful island City State called Singapore.

  3. Ben said

    Nothing will change. It’s becoming painfully obvious, over the past few years, that the government is terribly self-centered and short-sighted. They will continue to increase the GDP to ensure their fat paycheck, by hook or by crook, even if it means sacrificing locals for cheaper FT alternatives. Although I think that the policies which you have mentioned are brilliant, it will require major overhauls to the existing system which would take years to fully implement, and the government sure as hell doesn’t want to take the risk when everything is nice and rosy for them right now. When questioned about the existing policies, they avoid the issue and give ambiguous replies. It’s really, really, REALLY obvious that they don’t plan to change anytime soon. As for those who think the ruling party will shape up and listen to the people after their dismal performance at GE2011, don’t be naive. Instead, it’s more likely that they will find ways and means to win by any cost e.g. granting FTs citizenship as these bunch of people are forced to vote for the ruling party to be able to stay in SG. I gave up hope on SG already. Right after my university graduation, I went straight to Japan (which I have grown to love) for job hunting. Never even considered any job in SG. I’m enjoying life in Japan right now and don’t plan to go back to SG in the near future. At least until the ruling party finally wake up their bloody idea. I would rather be ostracized in a foreign land than to be marginalized in my homeland. How sad is that, really?

  4. Hannsg said

    If any women certified by doctor to be pregnant and she wishes to employ a foreigh maid, the goverment should allow full maid levy exemption until the child reached the age of 18.
    This would certainly provide a booster for married couples have children.
    Same maid levy exemption be extended to any family with elderly members above the age of 65.

  5. No Can Do said

    Speaking as a senior citizen who earns around 1k a month, I am required to set aside 10% of my annual income for medisave, otherwise I’ll be unable to renew my work licence and be charged for committing an offence if I don’t and can’t pay. But how can I pay for my medisave when my medical bills, taxi fares ( I am hypertensive, post-colon cancer and arthritic and can’t walk far not even to the nearest bus stop which is about 300 yards away ) take away a big portion of my pay. Is it fair for govt to insist I pay medisave in my twilight years when I had contributed so much to govt in my younger days? Shouldn’t there be a better welfare system to take care of our elderly than presently when even our working elderly are forced into greater hardship by the harsh demands of the govt to contribute to medisave when medical attention shd rightly be the state’s concern where our elderly are concerned? So where is PM Lee’s “sorry, sorry” he profusely offered to the ppl at the last GE? Geeezzz…

  6. spotlessleopard said

    Stop shoring up SUNSET INDUSTRIES..many of which are GLC companies. Start paying Foreigners. the Real Wage…not pay them 50% of Singapore Wages..this only cause problems for the Foreign Workers and cause Singaporean Workers to be sacked…
    If the PAP do not change their policy soon…then they must face the possibility of sitting in the Opposition Section Benches in the Parliament come GE2016

    • mahbok tan said

      We Sgporeans should second our fellow citizen here…..coz we have repented( if this is correct….!!!)

      To ensure that the GOVT of the day being left out on the sun for 5 years and let them decide whether to have more tan or what….!!!!

      Huat Huat Ah…..!!!

  7. Cancer said

    There are so many suggestions submitted by Singaporeans… but did the govt review & listen to us? No way they are going to do it and always get some Ministers to provide unconvincing reasons to justify their actions/policies. Should the citizens send in an online petition?

  8. Singaporean Native. said

    The root cause for this is the government. The government that doesn’t perform. No action and talk only is what this government is good for.

    Old people cannot retire in their golden years. Young people cannot settle down because of the rising cost of living. Who is to blame for this?

    People’s action party has not been doing a very good job. We need change. United we are stronger then the government. People power is stronger.

    • jaded said

      they are doing s lousy job! no more asking the co driver to slap the driver, time for the co driver to take over!

  9. No Can Do said

    @ Cancer said, 2day at 4.04 pm: If thry won’t listen, an online petition will not count as PM and other PAP ministers wld hv read TT. It all boils down to a matter of will, whether the ruling PAP will want to chsnge for the ppl or be adamant against the ppl.. As Catherine Lim writes, it wld be difficult for the PAP to reinvent itself to be receptive to the ppl’s demands. So the ppl’s wills can only come to fruition at the next GE and any byelection prior to the GE.
    Huat Huat Huat ah!!!!

  10. tcss said

    Can talk so much go be minister lah! If you are that great in your ideas why are you still talking c*** here. Go contribute to the nation!

  11. papsmear said

    I want more children but my wife don’t want! I go out find prostitute oso scare she never bring IC and below 18. How? Find a cat or spider is it? Then children is cat woman and spiderman?

  12. Dogmeat said

    I’ll have more babies if the following can be met:
    1. cheap, subsidised housing (<300k)
    2. free education for my children through university
    3. cheap cars
    4. free health coverage
    5. 5% return on CPF
    6. CPF option to cash out
    7. foreigners to buy my HDB at 600k and more
    8. less than minimum wage maids to clean my HDB, feed my children and take care of my parents
    9. high salary
    10. low cost of living

  13. Citizen said

    Hopefully native Singaporeans can see that our identiy is in a crsis and something have to be done immdiately.

    It is fundamental that a nation is able to sustain its population by itself, which we can’t due to our low TFR.

    It is clear that the intend is not for the natives to grow and replace within based on the actions and/or the inaction of the policy makers.

    I am sure that the country can well afford to following the examples of other coutries that were successful in raising their TFR.

    Social engineering have been taking place to reduce the percentage of natives who are considered “not so preffered” and eventually becoming the minority and diminishing in years to come.

  14. Problem Solver said

    The easiest way to increase the birth rate is simply to pay Singaporeans to have more kids.

    Here’s a rough idea how it works.

    1. You pay Singaporean citizen couples (not PR couples) a large amount, say $500,000, per child. Each additional child is another $500,000, up to, say, 3 or 4 children.

    2. Only couples married before a certain date are eligible, so you dont suddenly get lots of SG people tying the knot, only to get divorced a year later.

    3. Not paid in one lump sum, but in yearly installments, say $100,000 a year, until whole grant is paid.

    4. Where does the money come from? Easy. Temasek has hundreds of billions of dollars.

    5. There can be a time limit for this scheme. eg grant is available for next 3 years, then no more baby bonus. Or, if it works, do it longer.

    6.How many extra babies will you get? Well, there are about 36,000 to 39,000 babies born in SG every year. I’d expect at least double or triple that amount. Maybe more.

    7. Obviously, with such high payouts, parents can have one or both parents at home, possibly getting some real hands on parenting.

    8. Some fraction of the bonus must go towards the childs CPF for education, medisave etc.

    There you go.

    Problem solved.

    • P Koh said

      Wow! Very good idea especially for the older folks to become rich fast. Old men (widower or divorced) will start to marry young Chinese girls just to produce babies to get all this wonderful free money. Please press the government hard for this novel idea while I start to go hunting for some nice sweet looking Chinese lady who is prepared to produce babies with me.

  15. mum said

    Why the reluctance of having children? I can tell you why cos I am a mum and had experienced it all. First, once you are pregnant, you are seen differently by your colleagues and bosses. You will be “demoted” , lesser or no bonus at all cos you are absent for 4 months. Your colleagues are going to hate you cos they are going to cover for you in your absence. You will be bypass for promotion even though you are good etc. Next, after delivery, we will be faced with childcare issues. Not everyone has the luxury of having in-laws or parents to take care of your new borned. They may be too old or may not be willing to take care for you. Hiring a maid will also not solve the problem cos no one is going to supervise her and you don’t know what the maid will do to your baby. Another choice is putting yr babies in infant care but it costs a bomb!! Too much for a young family and vacancies are hard to come by. You have to wait for more than a year to get a place in infantcare. If government really wants to boost the birth rate. They should provide more protection to pregnant ladies. For instance, they cannot be sacked for whatever crap reason the employers come up with and unrecognised for the effort they put in their works.

    But I think it’s rather unattainable cos I was from the public sector and had this kind of experience. I wonder those in the private sector are in a better predicament than I. haha… So I quit my job and take care of my child….. Having a second child was my initial plan when I married. But considering the time and money spent a child is really too much to bear when you have no helpers. Unless, I get back to work and become a dual income family. But there are still many issues to solve. I have to fetch my child by 7pm and cannot work overtime. When the child falls sick, you have to take child care leave. There are just too much issues you have to resolve. The childcare leaves may not be even be sufficient. I had the experience of my child having 2 weeks of diahorrea and another time 1 week of fever. So how can you take so many days of leaves? Blah blah blah…. so it’s really not easy having a child….. time, money and effort and yes lots of sleepless nights for mums…. They are like a candle burning at 2 ends.

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