03/21/2023, 15.04
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Singapore increasingly resigned to demographic winter

by Steve Suwannarat

In a country where the fertility rate now stands at 1.05, surveys ask whether children are really necessary. Over the coming decade, a quarter of the population will be over 65 years old. Meanwhile, the authorities bluntly note: “We will never go back to replacement rate.”

Singapore (AsiaNews) – In Singapore, demographic winter is increasingly becoming a permanent feature.

With the fertility rate down to 1.05, the latest surveys and studies tend to no longer focus on cultural, economic and practical aspects of fewer births (and marriages) but on the question of whether children are really needed for the fulfilment of individuals and couples.

More and more women believe that if they cannot answer the question, it is better to avoid motherhood. Not all survey respondents have a negative attitude towards children; in fact, by education, cultural norms, and religious convictions, offspring are still seen as important.

In practice though, many simply say that they are not ready or believe they are not adequate; and so some prefer to devote time and attention to something else.

A high quality of life but also a variety of lifestyle choices now available have given Singapore a leg up in certain trends that are only now visibly emerging elsewhere in Asia.

In Singapore, the average lifespan now stands at 83 years and over the coming decade, a quarter of the country’s population will be over 65.

This is not only a challenging situation. Cindy Khoo, deputy secretary for the Strategy Group in the Prime Minister’s Office, notes that as Singapore’s population ages at an alarming rate, the effects of a decreasing old-age support ratio will be felt sooner than most people think.

For her, “We will never go back to replacement rate” of 2.1 children per woman between 15 and 49 years of age. The ratio of active workers to inactive older workers, which is now 3 to 1, is likely to fall to 2 to 1 in 2030.

A 2021 survey by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) reports that 92 per cent of married respondents wanted to have two or more children, but in practice, about half of them, or 51 per cent, had one child or none.

A recent poll by YouGov found 25 per cent of respondents aged 18 to over 55 said that they did not have children and that did not want any.

Photo: Flickr/hslo

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Thailand’s demographic decline, the other side of the Land of Smiles


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