Stumbling block in quest to raise birth rates

I read with interest the article on whether rich countries should try to get their citizens to have more children (Rich nations need to find a cure for baby bust; Nov 10).

It noted Singapore's failure to raise birth rates by encouraging marriage and paying people to have more children.

Instead of romanticising the bliss of family life and having children, what needs to be done is for the reality on the ground to be understood.

A young Singaporean adult who has just entered the workforce is usually confronted with a dilemma: You either get married, raise a family and work till you kick the bucket; or stay single and work till you save enough to enjoy an early or timely retirement.

Raising a family with children remains an ideal for most, but reality is quick to erase any romantic notions one may possess.

On a national level, raising fertility rates will always be a priority for the Government, but on a personal level, it involves huge sacrifices and trade-offs that will affect one's entire life.

It is not helped by the fact that the cost of living here has skyrocketed and we are living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

We have passed that erstwhile generation where continuity in family lineage was considered the fundamental duty of sons and daughters.

This is a generation where the self is more important than others, and where personal considerations reign supreme.

Unless someone can bridge that yawning divide that most working adults face, the light at the end of the baby bust tunnel remains elusive for most policymakers.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline 'Stumbling block in quest to raise birth rates'. Print Edition | Subscribe