The suggestion to increase paternity leave to the maximum eight weeks to encourage couples to have more babies is a simplistic solution ("Fewer sold on incentives to start a family: Survey"; Tuesday)
No couple decides to have children just so that they can get to enjoy paternity leave. Extending paternity leave to the maximum possible is limiting because should such a measure fail to lift the birth rate, there will be no more options left to exercise.
There is also no noticeable difference between the birth rate before and after the implementation of paternity leave. Thus, extending paternity leave is, at best, limited in its scope to boost the birth rate.
Extending paternity leave could also have an adverse effect on Singaporean fathers. Singaporean men are burdened with national service obligations till the age of 40 or 50, which takes them away from their family and work.
Coupled with a long paternity leave, they will be deemed less productive and more expensive to employ, thereby making them less employable compared with women and male foreigners, and permanent residents.
What is needed is a holistic solution to the problem.