Solve the root cause of our population woe: Reluctance of young Singaporeans to have more children
Posted by temasektimes on June 5, 2012
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