SINGAPORE - 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 reverses a declining trend which hit an eight-year low in 2018.
The median age of resident live births for first-time mothers was 30.8 years last year, a slight increase from 30.6 years in 2018.
In comparison, the median age in 2009 was 29.7 years.
At the same time, the number of deaths grew by 0.8 per cent, from 21,282 in 2018 to 21,446 last year, according to the report by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
A greying population means deaths have been on an upward trajectory since at least 2010, when there were 17,610 deaths.
More men died last year than women. A higher proportion of men died from heart and hypertensive diseases and accidents, while women registered a higher proportion in kidney and disorders of the urinary system, and cerebrovascular diseases.
National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Tan Ern Ser said there will always be small fluctuations in numbers, and it is not necessarily true that the birth rate is improving or getting worse.
"What is needed is to look at longer-term trends, as well as specific age categories," he said.
"More details are needed to ascertain if the rise has to do with marriage rates, ethnicity, government incentives, or a more positive economic outlook.
"I doubt it's the latter since the economic outlook hasn't been very positive."
He said it is not surprising that there has been an uptick in deaths given Singapore's rapidly ageing population.
In line with this trend, 17,993 of those who died last year were aged 60 years and above compared to 13,485 in 2010, accounting for 83.9 per cent of the total deaths.
In a statement on Tuesday (July 28), 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 preschool, 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.