Encourage embryo-freezing to raise birth rate

Financial incentives play a very small role in increasing the birth rate in Singapore, I believe (How to nudge couples to have more kids; Sept 26).

Rather, the birth rate is more dependent on the fertility window that every woman has.

Given that the average age of marriage in Singapore is trending towards the 30s, women generally have a highly fertile window of about five years after turning 30.

Therefore, given this small window, it is almost impossible for a couple to have more than two children.

Generally, Singaporeans are relatively financially stable once they reach their late 30s.

Hence, the current financial incentives may not play a big part in encouraging couples to have more babies.

Rather, the Government should focus on providing more financial incentives targeting the expansion of the birth window so that couples who already have two or more children can have more babies after the woman is above 35.

Embryo-freezing is a technology that is not sufficiently taken advantage of to tackle the declining birth rates in Singapore.

The laws here impose strict medical restrictions on women who want to have their embryos frozen, and place even tighter restrictions on women who are single.

Embryo-freezing when the woman is below 30 provides the best chance for a live birth when the embryo is implanted when the woman is older.

If the Government channels some financial incentives into embryo-freezing and lifts restrictions on this technology, it will give couples a prolonged fertile window of about another five years to have more children.

This would also help women who are single in their 20s to start a family later in their lives too.

Charlie Tan Keng Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2018, with the headline 'Encourage embryo-freezing to raise birth rate'. Print Edition | Subscribe