The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) has shown initiative by offering free classes to students who marry or have children during their course of study. The university's Marriage and Baby Bonus scheme for its part-time adult students, which may save them up to a few thousand dollars, is intended to support the national focus on encouraging marriage and parenthood.
The focus is lent a degree of urgency, given the latest figures on births and deaths. Last year, the number of babies born fell to a seven-year low, while the number of deaths was the highest in at least two decades. A total of 39,615 births was registered - 4 per cent fewer than the 41,251 in 2016. At the same time, the number of deaths rose by 4 per cent from 20,017 in 2016 to 20,905 last year. Nor was this a one-off occurrence, for the mortality rate has been on an upward trajectory since at least 1998. These figures are cast in sharp relief by Singapore's declining total fertility rate, which stood at 1.16 last year, far lower than the 2.1 needed for the population to replace itself.