Why Singapore's current birth rates may not improve soon

By Kelvin Chung

I refer to the latest initiatives and suggestions by Singapore’s government and labor unions to boost the fertility rates in Singapore – from increasing of maternity leave, introduction of paternity leave, flexi work arrangements, child care subsidies and cultivating a work life balance etc.

While I applaud these positive initiatives, I do not think this will have an immediate or huge impact on the current birth rates due to:

“Career First, Settle Down Later” mindset
Ask any graduate who just completed university, what are their immediate goals/plans or in the next 5 years. Almost 99% WOULD not say they want to start a family and have two or three children. Most would want to find a job with good salaries and progress in their careers within the next 2 – 3 years and beyond.

“Not married, No kids – It is not a big deal”
In the past, when you are not married by a certain age say 35 years old or not having children after several years of marriage, you are viewed as an outcast (during our parents’ time). Times have passed and things have changed dramatically.

I have personally come across many of my peers who are either not married or married but with no intention of having a kid. Their response is always it is not a big deal and they do not see it as anything wrong or out of the social norm.

“Earn More, Spend More” lifestyle
As salaries increases, so do quality of life for most of us. From owning a car, more frequent holidays, dining at posh restaurants and buying designers’ brand goods, having a child can be seen as a liability and high monthly expenditure with no immediate/long term gains.

“I think I Can Achieve More” mentality
When you reached a certain status by a certain age, the natural thought that comes to your mind – what is next? Should I settle for status quo or push myself up to the next level? Humans being humans, they are greedy and competitive by nature and would naturally choose the latter. Again, having a kid at this juncture is not seen as a priority for most.

Ability to juggle to the new “life”
For those with children would admit that while it seems easy, it is in fact not as simple as one thinks to have a child and raise he/she up well. In fact, some people are extremely fearful.

Lifestyle needs to be changed, financial prudence needs to be exercised and lots of sacrifices need to be made. Reflect and think what your parents have done for you while you were in growing up years. It is not only about the financial aspects of it but whether is one ready to be a father or mother?

Enough has been said on the joy of starting a family and having kids. We all know that, the problem is overcoming the mindsets/obstacles. Parents’ nagging and pestering can only do that much, government’s support, incentives and encouragement can only push you a little bit more. Ultimately, it must be us, the current and future generations READY to tackle the challenges and overcome the mindsets. Some of us are just not as ready.

*The views expressed above are my mine and not those of my company.

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