No money and not ready; reasons behind Singapore's low birth rate
A recent survey found that finances and mental readiness are the main reasons couples in Singapore are delaying having children. Find out how you can best prepare for a family.
“Having a child in Singapore is not cheap” is the constant refrain of newlyweds or young couples when asked why they have yet to start a family. And according to a recent survey, this is one of the major reasons why Singaporeans are not having more babies.
Costs of infant and childcare
With majority of families having two working parents, the need for childcare or infant care is a pressing one. Not everyone has a ready and willing extended family to pool from to look after their babies and this is where child care services come to play. However with the costs of childcare and infant care at a premium, more couples are thinking twice about having children. As one parent says, “Currently, infant care in Singapore is still quite expensive. Even the more affordable ones, after government subsidies, is still S$700 a month!”
Support from employers
Flexi-work arrangements that allow parents to work from home or come into office two or three instead of five times a week is seen as a major incentive as that will enable them to spend more time with their children and cut the need for infant or child care.
However, there are couples who feel that this arrangement has not quite been implemented successfully. Mandy Loh, a freelance writer says, “I was offered a full-time work from home arrangement with my previous employer… Six months into it, it really fell flat on the ground. One of the reasons was my immediate supervisor was really not supportive of the arrangement. I tried so hard, I really put in my best to make it work but I think it was just not really appreciated on her part.”
However, Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports, believes that there is only so much the government can do or subsidize. She says, “We can try to give more subsidy support and look at ways of improving the infrastructure (and) environment for our young people but at the end of the day, I think it’s also important that they have to recognise these issues.”
She feels that the only way people will have children is if they start prioritising the family unit and the importance of children in that dynamic.
What can young couples do then to best prepare themselves to start a family?
Couples will need to manage their finances to start a family. There should be less of the “I want” mentality and more of the “What do I need” mentality. Being prudent by only spending what is necessary will help couples save for the expenses of having children.
If you feel that you’re not ready to care for another human being then be responsible and let your spouse know. There needs to be open communication when starting a family and if one partner wants kids while the other doesn’t this could cause feelings of bitterness in the marriage. Also if a child were to be born under such circumstances, the environment that he or she grows up in might not be the healthiest.
Take a leap of faith
Know that it is impossible to get everything to be perfect before you start thinking about starting a family. Sometimes it is about taking that leap of faith and jumping into the unknown. You just might find that you were born for it.