Around 40% of all individuals in Singapore at any given moment are foreigners. The government says that it is because of low birth rates, hence foreigners are needed to deal with labor shortage.
However, since the birth rates keep dropping, this means that the government will keep resorting to bringing foreign labor in. This “slippery slope” should be one that they need to be concerned with.
Singaporeans are discouraged from having children
There are too many things that they are concerned with.
Cost of living is increasing faster than our wages.
Housing prices continue to increase, cars are expensive, school fees rise every year. It is no wonder that those who wanted to start families will think twice. Babies mean additional mouths to feed and they have to make space for the babies. Why will they do that when the small apartments in Singapore may not even be enough for themselves?
The timeline imposed by the society is not conducive for starting a family.
A couple who just graduated from university will be on average 24-28 years old. Let’s say they date for a year after graduation before deciding to purchase a BTO. If they are that lucky, they get it within a year. After that they wait 4-7 years for it to be completed. They will be in their 30s by the time they get their own place. Their biological clock will be ticking by then.
The above anecdote is if they find their love while they are schooling. For those who only find love after starting to work, imagine the delay that would be. By the time they settle down with someone and have a house to start a family, they may have problems conceiving, even with the help of IVF.
Moreover, the problem with the society is that it is not normal for couples to co-habitat before marriage. That is because housing and rent is too expensive for singles. This means that most Singaporean couples will only truly know their partner’s living habits after they get married.
It shouldn’t be surprising then, that many couples fall apart after that. Singaporeans are forced to apply for BTOs as soon as possible, and with that, they have to assume that they will be suitable for each other. For couples that meet after they start work, this could mean a year into their relationship they are talking about marriage.
You can read some HDB BTO breakup stories here.
Instead of focusing on bringing in foreigners, the government should think about how to make it easier for Singaporeans to live
Bringing in foreigners is a “quick fix”. It shouldn’t be a permanent solution. Another quick fix is the one-off baby bonuses that they use to encourage some to have babies, but it is evidently not the best because our birth rate is still declining.
If the government is really that concerned about the low birth rates, they should start looking at the system and how they can change it instead of relying on quick fixes.