Singapore fertility rate continues to slide down. Latest numbers from the Report on Registration of Births and Deaths 2018 say that the number of babies born in Singapore in 2018 was 39,039 – a 1.5 % drop from 2017.
Singapore’s total fertility rate has also dipped from 1.16 in 2017, to 1.14 in 2018, which is again, much below the replacement rate of 2.1.
Latest stats from the Department of Statistics also show that, the number of marriages and divorces have decreased in 2018, when compared to 2017.
Number of babies born in Singapore drops to 8-year low
Experts cite socio-economic trends, such as more and more young people choosing to be single, and couples delaying marriage and parenthood, financial instability, digital disruption and even climate change as factors contributing to this reduction in number of babies born in Singapore.
“(These factors) might prompt couples to think even more carefully about whether to bring a baby into the world or not,” Professor Jean Yeung, director of the Centre for Family and Population Research at NUS told The Straits Times.
“Like more than 100 other countries, more Singapore women are in tertiary educational institutions than men… Getting married is no longer a necessity,” says Jean.
The number of deaths grew by 1.8 per cent, from 20,905 in 2017 to 21,282 in 2018, according to the report by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. Fewer births and more deaths creates more challenges for our society.
It is also important to note that, the median age of first-time mums was 30.6 years in 2018, compared with 29.7 years in 2009.
This again, is a concern, due to the fact that fertility decreases with age.
Marriage and divorce rates down in 2018
The number of marriages and divorces also decreased in 2018, when compared to 2017. A total of 27,007 marriages were registered in 2018, which was 4.3% lower than the 28,212 marriages registered in 2017.
Inter-ethnic marriages meanwhile, continue to show an upward trend. They have increased in 2018 to 22.4% of total marriages, up from 16.7% in 2008.
Also, like in previous years, the age at which people have been marrying continues to rise. The median age at first marriage for men rose from 29.8 years in 2008 to 30.2 in 2018, while for women it went up from 27.3 years in 2008 to 28.5 years in 2018.
This could be because of a greater focus on education and career, or simply because they wanted to be sure about the person they were marrying, before committing.
A total of 7,344 marriages ended in divorce or annulment in 2018, a decrease of 3.1% from the 7,578 cases in the previous year.
Most divorcing couples were married 5 to 9 years. Divorce rates among older people are rising.
SingStat figures showed that the proportion of divorcees, aged 45 years and above, rose from 32.7% in 2008 to 44.0% in 2018 for males, and from 21.7% to 29.9% for females.
Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Desmond Lee said in a Facebook post that, “While the number of marriages fell between 2017 and 2018, the yearly average over the last five years (2014-2018) remained higher compared with the previous five years (2009-2013).”
“I am also encouraged that the number of divorces has fallen between 2017 and 2018. We will continue to strengthen support for divorcing families.”
How to increase the number of babies born in singapore
In a recent survey conducted by I Love Children, 77% of Singaporean couples had expressed a desire to have children within three years of getting married. But many of them had trouble in conceiving, and were seeking fertility help too late.
Many couples were also over-confident of conceiving with the help of modern technology like IVF.
These were some key recommendations put forth by ILC:
Another issue that most couples cite is the lack of work-life balance in Singapore, the high cost of living and a relatively long wait for HDB flats.
Singapore Management University professor of sociology (practice) Paulin Straughan, employers should do more about this problem.
“Human resource departments should review their evaluation frameworks and make sure we don’t overly reward and encourage the over-committed,” she told The Straits Times.
In the words of Sociologist Tan Ern Ser, “Couples may be less willing to reproduce if they are worried about the future.”
Also READ: What is the government doing about Singapore’s low birth rate?
(Source: The Straits Times)