Baby gloom haunts Lee

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The rising number of reluctant brides, particularly among the highly educated, has again been highlighted by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

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The rising number of reluctant brides, particularly among the highly educated, has again been highlighted by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. In a recent dialogue with undergraduates, MM Lee expressed his concern about Singapore’s population slide that has been around for some 25 years, seeing it a threat to its long-term survival. Some 33% of men and women are single, according to Lee. And to prevent an eventual collapse, Singapore has to import foreigners.

In talking about lifestyle choice, Lee may have left out other factors that are contributing to fewer Singaporeans marrying and producing babies. One is the highly competitive life in a tiny Singapore that has few resources. From school to work to business, it is one test after another for the people. Another is the high cost of living. The Economist Intelligence survey named Singapore the 10th most expensive country in the world, and the present crisis could make things tougher.

Last year inflation rose by 6.5%, the highest level in 28 years, with the poor being the hardest hit – not a formula for more babies. During the past decade wages of the broad middle class stagnated, while that of the lower-income group actually declined. Some young critics blame it on policies that Lee had instituted all these years, particularly giving priority to economic growth over individual needs.

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