Total fertility rate fell to record low last year

Preliminary estimates indicated that the total fertility rate in Singapore dropped to 0.97 in 2023, the first time it has dropped below one, Indranee Rajah, minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), told the Parliament.

The city-state recorded 26,500 resident marriages and 30,500 resident births during the year, said Indranee, who oversees the National Population and Talent Division in the PMO.

Indranee noted that fewer Singaporeans married and gave birth to babies annually on average over the last five years compared to the preceding five-year period.

She gave multiple reasons for the falling fertility rate, such as the Covid-19 delaying some couples’ marriage and parenthood plans, the financial cost pressure to raise children, work-life balance worries, and generational change in priorities.

“The young people may not even see marriage or parenthood as important life goals,” the minister added.

The falling births have some serious implications, including an aging society and economic slowdown. Citizens aged 65 and above made up almost one-fifth of Singapore’s population by mid-2023.

“With fewer births, we will face a shrinking workforce. It will be increasingly challenging to maintain our dynamism, attract global businesses, and create opportunities for the next generation,” Indranee said.

She added that the government is taking measures to encourage parenthood, such as doubling government-paid paternity leave for fathers, increasing unpaid infant leave, and enriching housing supplies to families.

Singapore’s immigrant policy also helps mitigate the problem. The government granted about 23,500 new citizenship and 34,500 new permanent residencies in 2023, Indranee said. — Xinhua

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