Forum: More radical measures needed to boost S'pore's birth rate

If Japan is in crisis over its ever plummeting birth rates (Baby crisis in Japan deepens as births hit record low in 2021, Feb 26), it is more alarming still that Singapore is actually faring far worse.

Japan's fertility rate last year of 1.33, abysmal as it is, easily exceeds Singapore's rate of 1.2 in 2020. Birth rates here have fallen almost in a straight line from a high of 3 in 1971 to 1.14 in 2019.

We must encourage more marriages and procreation beyond dangling the normal baby bonuses and increased maternity and paternity leave.

Perhaps the State could offer far more affordable childcare, promote more flexible work-from-home arrangements or subsidise maid levies for families with children.

More radical still, it could allow couples with at least two children to buy cars without a certificate of entitlement or give them priority in balloting for prime public housing.

What's certain is that no single measure will work in a vacuum and whole suites of strategies must evolve to handle this problem.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

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