A record number of Singaporean babies born in 2015!
Singapore has seen a significant increase of birth rates last year, what could have contributed to such an increase?
It looks like 2015 was the year for babies in Singapore!
According to news reports and official statistics, the Jubilee Year ended with at least 33,793 new babies -- the highest in 13 years.
This figure even exceeds the 33,238 births in 2012, the auspicious Year of the Dragon for Chinese births.
It is thought that the feel-good factor of the SG50 celebrations and enhanced parental perks brought about this very welcome baby boost.
Dr Kang Soon-Hock, head of the social science core at SIM University, stated that the bumper births are a sign that more young Singaporeans are starting to embrace marriage and parenthood. He added that previous parenthood benefits and earlier policy interventions have “laid the groundwork” for the changing mindset.
Singapore started to address the issue of low birth rates in 1987, and over the years has offered, among others, tax rebates, baby bonuses, priority in getting bigger HDB flats and subsidies at selected childcare centres.
The incentives for last year included doubling of the one-week paternity leave and an extra $2,000 in baby bonus.
Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo, who oversees population issues, welcomed the 1.8% rise over 2014.
To encourage more of such upward trends, Ms Teo stated in her post that she will focus on three areas.
They include: helping fathers to play a more active role in raising their children, providing a bigger network of affordable quality childcare, and improving workplace and community support for young parents.
The birth figures refer to babies with at least one Singaporean parent.
Last year’s figures, collated from the quarterly demographic bulletin issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), is not the final figure as it doesn’t include Singaporean babies who have yet to be registered by the end of last year.
Paulin Straughan, sociologist at National University of Singapore, said that the rising trend could continue, as the victory of the People’s Action Party may boost Singaporean’s confidence in the future of the country. However, Professor Jean Yeung, the director of the Centre for Family and Population Research said that encouraging Singaporeans to have more babies continues to be a difficult task.
She cited low marriage rates and people getting married late as reasons for the difficulty. No less significant, she added, "is the actual cost and opportunity cost of having a baby’'.
MP Tin Pei Ling, who was one of the many new parents last year, said that childcare services continue to be a need among her residents in MacPherson.
The mother of a 6-month-old boy added that, "They may not be able to find domestic help or their parents are not around or able to provide help. We need to do more to increase the availability of spaces at various workplaces, and make them affordable”.
MP Louis Ng hopes that more employers, starting with the civil service, would adopt flexi-work arrangements to give their workers more quality time with their children.
He stated that, "It's just as important to emphasise the joy of raising children, even as we address the financial concerns”.
News Source: The Straits Times
What are your thoughts on how Singapore plans to encourage a higher birth rate? Share with us in the comments below!