The Straits Times
Published on Jan 29, 2013

More ways to encourage child-bearing


I AM a working mother with three teenage children. I joined many Social Development Unit (SDU) activities after finishing my studies, and met my husband through one of them.

Tax incentives then encouraged me to have two children by the age of 32. I followed the advice of my gynaecologist and had my third child by the age of 35.

In addition to the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package ("The big push for more babies"; last Tuesday), the authorities can consider the following to encourage child-bearing:

- The first two months of maternity leave should be paid by the Government.

Currently, the employer pays for the first two months, and may incur additional payroll costs at the same time when he hires and trains staff to take over the absent mother's duties.

Some working mothers may hesitate to have more children for fear of incurring the displeasure of their employers.

- Encourage social interaction leading to marriage by restoring the equivalent of the SDU, a non-profit organisation offering low-cost social activities to encourage participation.

Tertiary institutions, government sectors, government-linked companies and multinational corporations can also organise more social activities to provide opportunities for their single employees to interact.

- Encourage people in their 20s to have children, when their fertility levels are highest.

There should be more tax incentives for those who have children at the age of 28 or below. These incentives should decrease as one's age increases.

- Promote TV dramas that showcase family bliss.

Tan Saw Bin (Ms)