Does car ownership play a part in Singapore's low fertility rate?

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If the objective is to create a family-friendly environment that encourages couples to have more children, then should we not consider more ways to support parents' everyday lives?

Let's think about it for a second, does car ownership actually play apart in Singapore's low fertility rate? Well, according to two officials from the National Population and Talent Division; yes.

The previous mentioned officials went on study trips to Denmark and South Korea with the aim of understanding how these countries dealt with their falling fertility rates.

The two then came to an agreement that Singapore needs a holistic approach that is able to cultivate a more family-friendly society. If our aim is to raise the fertility rate, we would need to meet the demands of childcare by enhancing the paternity leave, promoting a more supportive work culture, providing adequate infant care and fostering a shift in societal attitudes.

Yes, the idea of car ownership being a factor in raising the fertility rate may sound crazy especially with Singaporeans already being highly dependent on public transport. But let's try looking at it from another angle; owning a car increases convenience in our everyday lives.

As most Singaporean families consists of both working parents, having a car would ease the experience of raising a family as time taken to pick the kids up to and from school would decrease, therefore equating to increased flexibility of juggling both work and family schedules. This will then lead to more family time.

Also, not having to deal with the public transport would be a relief, considering the peak hour crowds and frequent train breakdowns.

Family bonding will also improve as a car would encourage families to have sensible, sensitive or even playful conversations about relationships, responsibilities and decisions.

The car would also serve as a convenient private space especially for young families as there are times when a nappy change is needed, or when a mother urgently needs to breastfeed or store her breast milk.

Perhaps, we should come up with a family version of the COE? However, helping families own cars may worsen the inequalities within social classes as the ability to sustain car ownership is associated with certain socio-economic groups.

To sum it all up, a car can clearly serve as a multifunctional parenting tool. There's no guarantee that a car ownership can increase Singapore's fertility rate but who's to say it wont?

If the objective is to create a family-friendly environment that encourages couples to have more children, then should we not consider more ways to support parents' everyday lives?

 

Source: The Straits Times

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Written by

Aisyah Amin