Some Singaporean couples delay plans for marriage, kids amid Covid-19 pandemic

The main concerns of those delaying having a child include uncertainty about the global health situation in the light of Covid-19, shaky economic and employment prospects.
The main concerns of those delaying having a child include uncertainty about the global health situation in the light of Covid-19, shaky economic and employment prospects.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Some Singaporean couples are likely to delay their plans to marry or have a child as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts their financial stability and affects their job security, according to a survey.

These were among the reasons cited by about three out of 10 respondents in a survey commissioned by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

While the actual impact on Singapore's birth rate will come to the fore around nine months later, the findings are a matter of concern, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, who oversees the NPTD.

If Covid-19 further pushes down Singapore's total fertility rate, the number of Singapore-born citizens in the national population will drop even further, she added.

It will have knock-on effects, particularly in upsetting plans to grow the Singaporean core, she said.

Already, Singapore's total fertility rate (TFR) is below the replacement rate of 2.1 - the level at which a population replaces itself. The TFR dipped from 1.82 in 1980 to 1.14 last year, which is among the lowest in the world.

The survey, conducted in June and July this year, polled about 4,100 Singaporeans.

About half were singles aged 22 to 32 who were in serious relationships. The rest were married individuals aged 21 to 45.

About 80 per cent of those who were married and indicated that they planned to delay having children said they would do so for up to two years. The rest said the delay may go beyond two years, or were unsure.

The main concerns of those delaying having a child include uncertainty about the global health situation in the light of Covid-19, shaky economic and employment prospects, and worries about the safety of healthcare facilities.

Around 70 per cent of the singles who plan to put off their weddings said they would do so for up to two years. Most cited the uncertain global health situation and difficulty of holding a wedding ceremony.

The economy and job security worried them, too.

"As age affects fertility, marrying and having children later may result in families being unable to have the number of children they aspire to have," said the NPTD.

Ms Indranee hopes the $3,000 Baby Support Grant announced yesterday will coax couples to get hitched and be parents.

"We want young couples to know the Government and the community stand with them, so that they need not delay major life events."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2020, with the headline 'Some delay plans for marriage, kids amid Covid-19'. Print Edition | Subscribe