Why shouldn't singles take their time before marrying?

It is true that our island nation faces declining birth rates and the challenge of sustaining a population that will move us forward (When life choices are left to chance; July 14).

However, gone are the days when rural families needed to produce as many offspring as possible because of the high mortality rate and the need for additional hands on the farm.

We have become a very educated and affluent nation.

Having knowledge and material abundance means we are more cautious in our dealings - and marriage is one of the riskiest entanglements one can engage in.

Today, the cost of raising a child in Singapore from birth to university is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps it is prudent for one to have a stable rice bowl before having another mouth to feed.

Today's young are not fools. They have witnessed the high failure rate of marriages in their parents' generation, and seen the toll it took on families.

Taking their time before committing minimises the risk.

Furthermore, with education, affluence and a global economy, singles are no longer bound by their tiny circle of friends from school or their workplaces.

Online dating and budget airlines have brought couples together across countries, cultures and languages.

Why shouldn't singles cast a wide net, date a larger pool of candidates and spend more time with those with potential? After all, an employer would not interview just the first five candidates.

These are the dynamics at work, and until we recognise and come to grips with them, selling the fertility/procreation story seems naive.

Jeffrey Ho Choong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Why shouldn't singles take their time before marrying?'. Print Edition | Subscribe