What Spore’s fertility debate teaches us about inequality: More schemes won’t work unless we look at big picture

What Singapore's fertility debate teaches us about inequality: more schemes won't work unless we look at the big picture.

The recent intense conversations around inequality and poverty reminded me of a similarly complex issue that Singapore has discussed extensively: fertility. Are there lessons to draw from the experience of those discussions?

Between 2003 and 2013, much of my research was on Singapore's family policies. I published academic articles and newspaper commentaries about fertility patterns and public policy. I posed this puzzle: Singaporeans have fewer children than they would like to; why?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Learning from the past to resolve the inequality problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe