The Straits Times says

Growing the population for the long term

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Population figures released this week are worrying, and should serve as a call to Singaporeans to reflect on what this means for the future. There were fewer marriages and births last year as some postponed marriage and parenthood plans because of the coronavirus pandemic. That development occurred against the backdrop of Singapore's resident total fertility rate remaining below the 2.1 replacement rate and, indeed, decreasing from 1.14 in 2019 to 1.1 last year even as its citizen population continued to age. All in all, Singapore registered record dips in its population numbers over the past year, with the total population falling 4.1 per cent to 5.45 million. The annual Population in Brief report and data from the Department of Statistics underscored the possibly perilous state for the future unless citizens think seriously about the kind of economy and society they want for themselves and their children.

Matters would have been less severe had only Covid-19 been to blame. But what the pandemic has done is to not only surface trends but also shed light on demographic fissures. True, the economic uncertainties stemming from the outbreak made some wonder about jobs, income and the advisability of getting married and having children. But the pandemic will pass, or at least evolve to become endemic, and will be managed through a mix of health and social practices, thus allowing the workings of society to continue largely uninterrupted. Covid-19 disrupted the predictability of everyday life. But with vaccinations and other measures in place, economic and social activity will not be brought to a grinding halt.

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