Singapore’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for our resident population (citizens and Permanent Residents) was 1.20 in 2011, said a document released June 2012 by the National Population and Talent Division. “The last time that the TFR of the resident population . . . was above the replacement level of 2.1 was in 1976.”
Clearly, our population bust is a serious issue.
The proportion of singles has increased across all age groups between 2000 and 2011, the document said. Among citizens aged 30-34 years, singlehood rates increased from 33% to 44% for males, and from 22% to 31% for females.
Looking internationally, it notes a similar pattern in East Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, with similarly dismal TFRs. However, in the case of some Western countries, while the marriage rates are also low, TFRs are higher than Singapore’s. Sweden has a TFR of 1.90 while Denmark’s is 1.76. Speaking not only of these two countries but of several more Western countries as well, the document notes: “the main difference is that these societies have more children born outside of marriage, ranging from 30% to more than 50%, compared to 1.5% – 2.0% in East Asian societies.”
Yet, after that discussion, the document concludes by insisting that marriage has to remain the key to Singapore’s solution: “Encouraging marriage and parenthood is a key Government priority to address the population challenge.” (emphasis mine).
Perhaps it’s time to ask some out-of-the-box questions. Why do we assume that parenting outside of marriage (as defined by Singapore law) is unthinkable in the Singapore context?
So, here’s a short survey (click the image) – only 14 multiple choice questions that can be completed in less than 2 minutes. It won’t be representative, of course, and knowing my readership, I will be tapping the middle-class, liberal-minded segment of Singaporeans. Nonetheless, I’d like to see whether single-parenthood is as “completely out of the question!” as is made out to be, even within this segment of our society. Maybe it is. The answer should be evident within a just a few hundred responses.
I will write up the findings a week later.