分析新加坡生育率显著降低 Analysing the signifcant decrease in Singaporean fertility rates

时间:2016-12-12 17:43:18 来源:www.ukthesis.org 作者:英国论文网 点击联系客服: 客服:Damien
Analysing the signifcant decrease in Singaporean fertility rates
Since the turn of the millennium, the global population has been experiencing a paradigm shift in the composition of its population. Communities are getting older and the number of new-borns is dwindling to a trickle. Singapore is no exception with the problem giving government officials here endless number of sleepless nights. Despite years of government initiatives to increase marriages and birthrates, Singapore's total fertility rates [1] has been plunging from 1.6 (2000) to 1.28 (2008) which is far below the replacement rate of 2.1.The suspicion is that the newer generation of Singaporeans are resistant to the idea of marriage and this has resulted in a shortfall in the number of babies. So is it true that Singaporeans do not want to marry?
The answer is no, Singaporeans do intend to marry. From the Study on Marriage and Parenthood 2007, 85% of singles surveyed indicated an intention to get married (Chart 1).
The institution of the Family in Singapore, while still strong, is facing challenges. Delayed marriage and family formation, may affect the ability of the family to care for and support its members. Despite aspirations to be married, more Singaporeans are remaining single. The number of resident singles aged 20 to 44 years has been increasing steadily over the years, from about 480,000 in 2000 to almost 530,000 in 2007, with approximately 3 per cent increase in resident singlehood rates over the same period.
Why is there such a problem?
The main reasons why fewer Singaporeans are getting married and consequently having less babies would be an advocacy of career above all, an inability to find a suitable partner and the increasing costs having a baby.
Singaporeans nowadays are also more ambitious and want to be financially independent and accomplished before committing to wedding vows. Having been brought up in a flourishing Singapore, most Singaporeans are driven by the dream of having the 5Cs( Condo, Car, Card, Cash, Country Club) and this has been further accentuated in all forms of media where the perversely rich lifestyle is much acclaimed. Inevitably, Singaporeans also feel that the career path should be their priority to ensure financial survival especially in a competitive environment where the only constant is change.#p#分页标题#e#
Singaporeans are also marrying later because of the inability to find a suitable partner. One reason for this is the mismatch of expectations and reality. Singaporeans often dream of marrying the ideal partner who is pleasing on the eye, understanding and rich. Such unrealistic expectations often prove to be the bane of relationships, making people less tolerant of flaws and always contriving to compare with perfection. Furthermore, Singaporeans are also too career-centred and there is a shortfall in their social life and interactivity with the opposite sex which results in a lower possibility of finding love.
Lastly, the living conditions in Singapore are increasing year on year, with prices inflating at extraordinary rates, couples are finding it difficult just to make ends meet. As such, the costs to feed and raise another mouth in the family would naturally be a gap too far to bridge.
Should we be concerned?
If the issue of younger people not wanting to marry and have more children continues, our changing demographics will inevitably lead us to one of an ageing population. Population ageing is defined as a shift in the distribution of a country's population towards the older ages. This is usually reflected in an increase in the population's mean and median ages, a decline in the proportion of the population composed of children, and a rise in the proportion of the population that is elderly.
As is clearly shown Chart 2, over the past decade, the population of residents between the ages of 0-14 has decreased 4.2% from 22.2% to 17.9%, while the percentage of population of ages 65 & over has increased 1.8% from 7.0% to 8.8%.
Effects of an ageing population on the society & businesses
With the increasing growth of the number of senior citizens each year, the government is required to allocate more budgets derived from taxes to maintain and build better infrastructure to help the elderly to re-integrate into the society more efficiently. For example, in recent years, the government has spent large sums of money upgrading the infrastructure of the residential areas, especially in the areas more populated by the elderly, including adding ramps and railings in lieu of the increasing number of old people and the disabled living in these areas. The upgrading of lifts in HDB flats is due to the same reason. Because of that, the government will have a smaller budget for other purposes such as improving the various industries (tourism, manufacturing, import/export etc) that could ensure economic growth for the country, and ultimately enhance our overall standard of living.
Similarly, businesses have also reacted to the ageing population phenomenon by producing items which are in demand by them. For example, more and more hospitals, polyclinics and other healthcare facilities such as nursing homes are being built to meet this increasing demand. In this way, it is possible that the price of healthcare would increase since demand and supply are 2 directly dependent variables. This would mean higher profits for the private healthcare companies, but it will also cause societal problems when more and more people find this necessity increasingly unaffordable.#p#分页标题#e#
Moreover, the increasing amount of senior citizens inhibits overall economic growth. This can be seen in the form of smaller workforce since the older workers are slower adaptors to change (especially in this IT age). Even if the elderly continues to contribute to workforce, they will be less productive than they were before, and businesses will not invest to keep them in the company if they are not doing the work that should be proportionate to their pay. This means that the economies will never work at full capacity with the low productivity rate of the elderly still in the workforce and some that are not contributing at all to the businesses.
Lastly, the increase in the ageing population will also increase the burden that every individual has to bear and this would inevitably place restrictions on their livelihood, causing low productivity for businesses and limiting economic growth for the government.
An excerpt from a research paper [2] done by Asian MetaCentre goes:
"There are several economic and social policy implications of a rapid ageing population. One of the most apparent economic implications is the increase in the old age dependency ratio that will occur within the next 30 years. In the year, 2000, one elderly person was supported by 9.8 working persons. This will decrease to 3.5 working persons per elderly person in the year 2030."
Logically, if taxes were to increase due the increasing number of old people in the country, it will definitely spark some resentment from the workforce, since now that the taxes have increased they would have lesser to spend on themselves or their families. Hence, if they were to feel that the amount of effort they'd put into their work is in-proportionate to how much they are effectively getting paid, the incentive to work harder and produce would decrease, causing the productivity of the businesses to fall. Lower productivity for businesses would mean that the economy will not work at full capacity, causing limited economic growth for the country.
Government - Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports
Low Fertility Rate
Repercussions of low fertility rates will be detrimental to a society; as such there is a growing need for the government agencies to intervene so as to curb such population trends.
Trade Union - NTUC
Pregnancy Discrimination
There is concern that some employers will practise discrimination against pregnant women. There have been cases where employers have fired pregnant employees as they feel that their absence from work due to maternity leave might pose huge inconvenience and disruption to their business operations. As such there is a growing need for trade union to step in and to protect the pregnant employees' rights.#p#分页标题#e#
Adjustment to government regulation
The challenge for companies now is to be able to balance the needs of employees who want to have children/with young children/want to have more children and their work schedules.
Employee - affecting working population
Tough working conditions are highly correlated to low marriage and birth rate
In a study conducted by NUS Singapore Centre for Applied and Policy Economics (SCAPE), it has shown that tough working conditions is highly correlated to why many younger Singaporean are getting marry late and having higher chance of not having a child. Many are worried that they might not be able to spend quality time with their children. This is further coupled with the high cost of living that might deter many couples to consider having more children. Even though the government has put in place the Marriage and Parenthood (M&P) scheme [3] to provide a wider range of supports to help couples to get married, this will also aid them in raising and caring for their children. Young Singaporean still continues to face many uncertainly in making decision with regards to getting married and planning to have child.
Government actions 政府的行动
3 or more if you can afford it
The population policy "have three or more (children) if you can afford it" was first announced in March 1987 by Mr Goh Chok Tong, who was the First Deputy Prime minister then. The policy [4] aims to encourage couples to have three or more children by: a) providing incentives to ease the financial burden of child-rearing (Tax rebates for third and fourth children and income tax relief for up to four children) b) incentives to ease the conflict on woman's work and child-rearing roles (child-care subsidy, rebates on maid levies, child-care leave and no-pay leave) and c)modification of the earlier two-child incentives in line with the new policy (priority in allocation of housing and primary school registration for families with three instead of two children).
Table 1 shows the live births by birth order from 1980-1992. Prior to 1987, total number of births stabilized at around 42,000. However from 1987 to 1992, total number of births as reflected from the table has increased significantly by around 16% as compared to the number of births prior to 1987. The number of births for the third and fourth child has also increased marginally by 5% after the implementation of the "three or more" policy.* Note: The sum of the cells may not equal the total owing to unknown birth orders.
The Baby Bonus Scheme [5] , first introduced on 1st April 2001, is a package meant to encourage young couples to have more children by making it more affordable and easier to raise a child. The latest enhancement on 17 August 2008 extended increased benefits to the first and second child and benefits to Singapore citizen children beyond the fourth child. The scheme includes monetary incentives where cash up to $4,000 will be given to each of the 1st and 2nd children and $6,000 each for the 3rd and 4th child. The latest enhancement also included the introduction of paternal leave and an extension to the existing maternity leave. The Baby Bonus scheme is actually an improvement on the existing pro-natal initiatives already implemented. Despite the introduction of Baby Bonus scheme, birth rates have still been far below from the replacement rates and birth rates have been declining steadily.#p#分页标题#e#
Housing incentives 住房优惠政策
The government has introduced measures to enable young married couples to rent or purchase their own public housing flats and start their families earlier. These include lower rental and shorter waiting time for first-time applicants who are mostly young couples. A housing grant of $40,000 will be put into the central provident fund (CPF) of couples who are going to purchase a flat on the resale market. Under the Married Child Priority (MCP) Scheme, married couples are encouraged to live within the same estate or neighbouring estate to foster care of aged parent. A sum of $50,000 will be given if a couple chooses to buy a flat close to their parents' home. We believe these housing incentives are to entice and encourage more Singaporeans to marry and start their families younger. Although the objective of MCP scheme is to encourage young couples to live close to their parents so as to facilitate care-taking, living close to their parents can also allow young couples to have their children taken care of by their parents while they go to work. As such, it can be seen that the government is trying to encourage more marriages and more child birth via these housing incentives.
Match-making agencies 婚介机构
In order to have more Singaporeans to settle down, authorities have merged SDU and SDS, 2 separate  government-funded dating agencies, the former being for university graduates and the latter for non-university graduates, into SDU-SDS to maximize social networking opportunities for singles. It has been now known as SDN (Social Development Network). Over the last 25 years [6] , 186,000 members of both organisations have tied the knot. Currently SDN has a total membership members of 90,000, the merged entity will provide the members an enhanced service and a greater opportunity to interact with more people. Although the success of SDN is debatable, one thing for sure is that this will definitely be a platform where one is able to get to know more people.
Attracting more foreign talent 吸引更多的外国人才
In view of the smaller labour force and aging population, the government has relaxed the immigration policies in order to attract more foreign talent to Singapore. This is one of the measures that the government has taken so as to curb or slow down the process of Singapore becoming an aged society. Given that pro-natal polices have been introduced since 1987 without any success in increasing Singapore's birth rates, the government sees having Singapore open to immigrants as the way to make up for the population shortfall. However in recent years, the huge influx of immigrants in Singapore has created uneasiness in our society. Many locals felt that their jobs are threatened as there is a conception that employers tend to replace older workers with cheaper and younger foreign workers. There are also anecdotes of employers preferring to hire immigrants since they do not have to take time off work to do reservist training. The concern now seems to be the increase in the number of immigrants from 10 per cent of the population in 1990 to 36 per cent now, and how this is going to change Singapore.#p#分页标题#e#
How has government performed 政府如何执行
In reality, the monetary incentive is simply not high enough for people to consider having more children. Besides raising a child or marriage requires a lot of effort and time, the lost of personal freedom and the different aims of one in life might deter some from wanting to have children or getting married. Ultimately the decision to have a child is still a personal choice. As such, it might be said that monetary incentives can only push Singaporean this far down the path, a more subtle approach might be necessary to change their thinking and mindset.
Recommendations 建议
Rather than throwing money at Singaporeans to have babies, the government might want to change tack regarding its approach on the issue. Since it might be said that marriage is the stepping stone for having children, the government might want to focus more on encouraging Singaporeans to get married and promoting family life.
Minister Mentor Lee Luan Yew often describes Singapore as a mammoth corporation and we feel that if Singapore can be considered as such, its policies taken to this issue can be classified as a mix of the conventional and the strategic management approach [7] (Buchholtz and Carroll, 2009). In line with issue management process [8] (Buchholtz and Carroll, 2009), we feel that the government has done well in identifying and analysing the issue as well as formulating and implementing responses to the issue. Currently, Singapore is in the stage of evaluating and monitoring of policies taken to address the issue. Our group feels that although the measures taken can be said to have yielded some success, we feel that a stronger focus on the strategic management approach to issue management should be undertaken.
Hence, we are proposing some recommendations on this issue which we feel the government should adopt in unison with the current policies for maximum effect.
The government of Singapore should make family planning and love mandatory subjects taken in the Singapore schooling system. It is necessary to ensure that the youths growing up know the gravity of the situation and at the same time it would be imperious to change their mindset towards the whole subject. This is why it would be important to tackle it at the crux of the issue by implementing it into the education. Knowledge through education will trigger in youths a subconscious awareness to these issues and take action against it. In colleges and polytechnics, the subject of love should be invoked into the curriculum of their projects like Project Work at the 'A' levels. This would encourage them to think of dating and relationships as a lifestyle but also to promote the idea of long term thinking in relationships and to seed the idea of marriage. The universities in Singapore can also make a university core module such as 'Marriage and Love' to further drive home the importance of the topic. Currently, SMU has a module like 'Finishing touch' which teaches student how to groom and behave themselves and what etiquette to observe in different occasions, since marriage and having children is such a fundamental issue in Singapore this days, a proactive approach to tackle the problem at its heart should be advocated. The importance of inculcating the subject of love into our education is to eradicate and rollback the spread of western culture where cohabitation is accepted and sex is common. The role of marriage and family values are slowly being eroded away by the influx of western ideas and American sitcoms, popular among the youth these days, are further aggravating the problem.#p#分页标题#e#
The government should also consider abolishing national service here because this has proven to be the cause for many relationships ending. Couples tend to drift apart during this period because males have to spend a huge chunk of their time in camp while females enter university. This is a significant two years lost for males because the military schedule often prohibits any free time other than rest, so it would be difficult to start a relationship during that period. Furthermore, this will also postpone their plans on marriage. Singaporeans all want to ensure that they are financially secure before marrying let alone having children, so the two years will set their plans back further which inevitably results in later marriages. Another way to circumvent this problem is to involve females in civil defense as administrative and planning officers. This will allow males and females of similar age to have more interaction and opportunities to build up relationships.
The government should also provide incentives for businesses and employers to be pro-marriage. A tax rebate system based on the turnover of couples in the company should be implemented whereby if a certain number of employees tie the knot during the year, the company will be entitled to a certain rebate. Personal grooming, dating etiquette seminars should be tailored into workers retraining scheme, governments would sponsor a portion of this and employers the rest. These would ensure that Singaporeans would not feel inadequately equipped to find a partner and would also increase the chances of long term relationships. The government should also set aside a pool of funds to help newly- wed couples find housing and also financial aid for childcare. Naturally, this should only be made available to couples who are both working and at a certain age so that Singaporeans would not procrastinate on marriage and delay childbirth.
Big Corporations and firms should also organize get-together events especially for singles. This is where they can mingle and network with other available singles and have the opportunity to be business partners as well as romantic partners. Employees should also be allowed to bring their partners, either girlfriends/boyfriends or spouse to company events and holidays. This would benefit both the company and the employee because the company gets participation by its employees and this helps teambuilding and at the same time, the employees' partners do not feel left out of events.
With the improvements in technology these days, communication is very convenient and it is increasingly easy for superiors to monitor the activities and work of those under them. As such, businesses should take advantage of this to allow employees to work from home when possible to create as much work balance as possible. Meetings can be done by teleconferencing and work can be submitted and monitored by a database from cloud computing.#p#分页标题#e#
The Social Development Network should also work with holiday and tour agencies to make packages attractive to couples. For example, for travel-hungry couples, there could be cheaper packages for organized tours around the world or even adventure related holidays such as a non-competitive amazing race. This is to fulfill the ambition of individuals who feel getting married will mean settling down and ending their dreams of going abroad. The agencies can also offer better rates and discounts if more couples are taking up similar packages so there is an incentive to encourage people to move into the marriage stage faster.
Conclusion 结论
Singapore is a country which depends on its human capital to sustain its economic survival, and as such, any change in population demographics and composition will have a high degree of importance to the ruling government here. Hence, we can classify the population of Singapore ageing and the lack of babies born here to replace them as a impending crisis. In reference to the Crisis Management 4 stages, we are currently in the prodromal crisis stage [9] where the warning signs and symptoms to the crisis have appeared. The government has identified this problem and has taken measures to arrest the situation before it declines to the acute stage - a point beyond recovery. This is in line with Augustine's Six Stages of Crisis Management [10] which promulgates that the first step is to avoid the crisis and thereafter to make preparations for it. As much as the government is trying to make it more attractive to get married and have children, eventually it is down to the younger generation of Singaporeans to do their part for society.

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