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Why men should share housework

The declining birth rate is a trend that Singapore and Japan have in common (Japan's population to shrink 30% by 2065; April 11).

When the first wave of industrialisation swept through Singapore, the social norm was for husbands to be the family's breadwinner and for wives to stay at home and look after the children. If women did work, they typically took up low-status clerical jobs.

Today, Singaporean women are better educated, tech-savvy and open to new ideas.

Most people - both men and women - would reject any suggestion now that women should give up work to stay at home to do housework and have children.

However, many women who are married and do not have maids still find themselves doing the housework after a tiring day at the office.

Most husbands do little to help, believing that housework is still the wife's responsibility.

Why would career women want to give up their independence and freedom, and trade these for marriage where they are treated like maids when they get home after work?

I believe one big reason for our high rate of childlessness and delayed marriages is that women are dissatisfied with the choices on offer.

Men have to change their mindsets fast, and take on an equal share of the housework and childcare.

With more supportive husbands, women will find it easier to combine careers with motherhood and, hopefully, be persuaded to have more babies.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Why men should share housework'. Print Edition | Subscribe