Number of births edges up after 8-year low in 2018

The Report on Registration of Births and Deaths 2019 said 39,279 births were registered last year.

Defying expectations, the stork visited Singapore last year and increased its number of deliveries.

The Report on Registration of Births and Deaths 2019 said 39,279 births were registered last year, an increase of 0.6 per cent from 2018.

This bucks a declining trend which hit an eight-year low in 2018.

The median age of resident live births for first-time mothers inched up from 30.6 in 2018 to 30.8 years last year. In comparison, the median age in 2009 was 29.7 years.

At the same time, a greying population means deaths have been on an upward trajectory since at least 2010, when there were 17,610 deaths.

There were 21,446 deaths last year, an increase of 0.8 per cent from 21,282 in 2018, according to the report by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

More men died than women, and from different causes.

A higher proportion of men died from heart and hypertensive diseases and accidents, while women were more likely to die from kidney and disorders of the urinary system, and cerebrovascular diseases.

Explaining the increase in births, National University of Singapore (NUS) sociology professor Jean Yeung said the children of the baby-boomer generation are now going through the child-bearing life stage.

"The increase may reflect couples catching up after postponing child-bearing for awhile," she said. "It may also reflect the impact of the greater subsidies the Government has been providing for assisted fertility treatments in the last few years."

Singapore Management University sociology professor Paulin Straughan said attention should be paid to the demographic profile of new mothers, especially if their age at first childbirth is increasing. A delay in family formation translates to smaller family sizes, she said.

"Many may not fully appreciate how hard it is to conceive naturally when they start family planning later, and how painful it is emotionally and physically, when they have to rely on assisted reproductive technology to realise their parenthood aspirations."

Singapore's total fertility rate dipped from 1.16 in 2017 to 1.14 last year. For the population to replace itself without immigration, women need to have an average of 2.1 babies.

NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser said it is not surprising that there has been an uptick in deaths, given Singapore's rapidly ageing population.

This is especially so for older cohorts: 17,993 of those who died last year - accounting for 83.9 per cent of total deaths - were aged 60 years and above, compared with 13,485 in 2010.

Dr Pei-Chun Ko, a lecturer at the Centre for University Core at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, said the increase in deaths from lung, heart and hypertensive diseases may imply the need to look into the chronic conditions of older Singaporeans.

In a statement yesterday, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) said that year-on-year fluctuations should be considered against the backdrop of longer-term trends.

"The longer-term marriage and birth trends remain positive, and indicate that Singaporeans continue to value settling down and forming families," said the NPTD.

It noted that to better support Singaporeans who would like to get married and have children, the Government enhanced the Marriage and Parenthood Package last year to help with pre-school, healthcare and housing costs.

"We will continue to work closely with employers and the community to build a Singapore society that is 'Made For Families'," it said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline Number of births edges up after 8-year low in 2018. Subscribe