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Money won't solve low birth rate problem: Mr Lee

Published on Aug 6, 2013 7:13 AM
Book cover: One Man’s View Of The World by Mr Lee Kuan Yew. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

If former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew were in charge of Singapore today, he would introduce a baby bonus equal to two years of the average Singaporean's salary.

This is not to boost the country's abysmal total fertility rate of 1.2. Rather, Mr Lee would do it to "prove that super-sized monetary incentives would only have a marginal effect on fertility rates".

Writing in his new book, One Man's View Of The World, Mr Lee makes clear he would offer this huge baby bonus for at least a year.

The experiment will "prove beyond any doubt that our low birth rates have nothing to do with economic or financial factors, such as high cost of living or lack of government help for parents", he says.

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Background story


I cannot solve the problem, and I have given up. I have given the job to another generation of leaders. Hopefully, they or their successors will eventually find a way out.

- Mr Lee, on declining fertility being the biggest threat to Singapore's survival