SINGAPORE: Since the government launched the Baby Bonus scheme in 2001, it has disbursed more than S$2.3 billion in benefits. This includes a cash gift and the Child Development Account -- a scheme where the government matches savings for children, dollar-for-dollar.
The Chinese consider the year of the Dragon, an auspicious year to have children. Noticeably, there were more births in Singapore between January and November 2012, compared to the same period in 2011. 38,914 babies were born in the first 11 months of 2012, and it looks like the numbers will exceed the preceding year.
Still, Singapore's total fertility rate (TFR) remains at a low 1.2, well below the replacement rate of 2.1.
Various measures have been introduced in an attempt to raise the TFR -- like cash gifts under the Baby Bonus scheme, which have been given to over 310,000 children since it was introduced in 2001.
More than 240,000 children have also opened the Child Development Account -- a savings account for children up to 12 years of age, which enjoys dollar-for-dollar matching from the government. The money can be used to pay for childcare centre fees, early intervention programmes or medical-related expenses, among other things.
The government is expected to announce enhancements to the Baby Bonus under its marriage and parenthood package.
However, family experts Channel NewsAsia spoke with said money is not everything.
Associate Professor Paulin Straughan, a sociologist with the National University of Singapore, said: "From the population demographic statistics, we can see where the adjustments have come -- delayed marriage, smaller family sizes.
"Moving forward, the question is then are we happy with this -- to allow individuals to continue to make adjustments to the constraints in our living environment? Can the nation sustain with these kind of population trajectories or is it time for us then to re-look the environmental constraints? To see if we can adjust those so that individuals don't have to tilt their balance too much."
Environmental constraints include long working hours, a competitive education system, the availability of accessible childcare and Singaporeans' expectations in general.
The government is already addressing some of these issues -- for example, putting less stress on the education system. There are also plans to make it easier for young families to set up their first home.
James Chan, a father of one, said: "I believe because of lifestyle, because of the rising cost -- cost is rising in Singapore, so everybody thinks it's not easy to set up a family. Time, childcare centres not being easily available at certain places.
Iqbal Zainal, a 25-year-old operations executive, said: "For us, we are in the mid-20s, we still want to do what we want after education, like travel and stuff. Even if couples get married, they want to stay together and travel and do what they want to do together without a child. Just make having kids cool or something. For now, having it in the early 20s is not cool."
It is the mindset change that experts said is hard to overcome.
Professor Gavin Jones, director at the JY Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre, said: "This is a country that succeeded by its own hard work -- no natural resources, it has developed its own human resources. We've got to be able to compete in the world and all these feeds in towards the attitude to education of children, the children has to succeed.
"Maybe the whole mystique has to be slightly changed, to give a little bit less precedence to economic growth. There are trade-offs and slower economic growth is dangerous for a country like Singapore in some ways, but rapid economic growth is going to lead to significant population decline and that is also not something that's desirable."
The government has set a target of raising the total fertility rate from 1.2 to 1.4 or 1.5 -- a target which experts said is quite possible with the right mix of policies. But that is still way below the replacement rate of 2.1. Given that reality, experts said the only way to make up for the shortfall is through immigration.
those parents receive baby bonus said baby bonus is of not much help.
Give you $1.
Take back $1000.
Not literally, but you get the gist.
always the case la.
sama sama like the GST package they gave us...............
how much can they give again and again? see idiots gving money is not going to push the birthrate up significantly.
those idiots dont see the root of the problem.
we have to clean out poipulation first, concurrently cultivate and educate our people. to be socially graceful and throw that bastard rainbow colorful cultures from thsoe bastard countries away. like that our ppulation will shine. whats the point of increasing our number of peopel when they all are like - a bastard nation?
our few major ethnic groups are enough - suppleented by other minority cultures.
why do we need som many cheena that have a clash of subcultures of their own, who likes to eat cats and dogs, so many people who looks dark but speaks with a weird english accent?
y dun give to single mothers
they encourage people to marry
speaking about this....
i got nth to say, and i dont know how to say it here
Originally posted by FireIce:
y dun give to single mothers
I ask the same question also.
cool, i dun have babies yet, any girl here want to help me have some babies?
money wont solve the problem!
given the current rising cost and stress in education, the parents will either JUMP FLOOR or the children WILL BE MAD FROM ENRICHMENT CLASSES AND TUITIONS !
i wanna ask.
if i earn several thousands a month, have landed property and is alwasy paying high taxes yearly, i also get the monies if i marry and hve cuhildren rite? all the benefits? if so i say the gahmen is really giving me monies lots of it with all teh privlieges.
i wann ask
if i am a foeign cheapo ig, sure imarry and sg gal andguy have babies, then after that my
chewren if gorwth up i milked all the education and monies here i migrate balik kampung - sure silly spore gahmen just let me likcked their sperms dry.
i ask gahmen - should we be specific about who we give this previlieges? how we give these privileges , and can we get them back if the population migrates like ingrates?!
i wanna askbecasue its our nation's money, and we not going to let them anyhow spend, anyhow take from us again again and again!
You ask too much.
throw money. a child grow up and have all teh benefits. then the whol;e family migrate.
the whole family is sg faily - so how?
can be - the whole family is half facuk cheena 1 how?
can be = the howle family some prs some agreans how?
is it then wethrow money into the sea population still not increase?
Originally posted by charlize:
You ask too much.
if chidl grow upo becum oanshark how? waste sg money right?