PAP is Relaxed about Singaporean Extinction as Fertility Rate Hits All Time Low
Today the Government announced that the number of babies born last year was the second lowest on record while the fertility rate dropped from 1.16 children in 2017 to 1.14, apparently the lowest on record.
Fertility rates have been dropping globally except in Africa. The global fertility rate has halved in the last 50 years as infant mortality rates have dropped and the opportunity cost of having children for women has increased. However Singapore’s rate is one of the world’s lowest and well below the replacement level of around 2.1 children.
There are many policies the Government could adopt to encourage Singaporeans to have more children. Among developed countries Sweden, France and New Zealand have fertility rates close to replacement levels. Both Sweden and France have adopted policies encouraging women to have more children.
I have advocated paying mothers a cash child allowance of $300 per child per month and it was part of Reform Party policy at the last election. This would cost initially about $2-3 billion p.a. and make sense purely on cost-benefit grounds if it led to a rise in the birth rate since more children would mean more workers in the future to support an aging population. We should also make pre-natal care and hospital stays for births free. However when I suggested this policy the PAP team in West Coast attacked it as being unaffordable and fiscally irresponsible.
Our statutory maternity and paternity leave is also extremely stingy compared to other developed countries despite the increases in 2017. When it comes to welfare the PAP are always quick to argue that we are a very poor country but then will turn around and boast about Singapore’s artificially high GDP per capita.
Even fiscal incentives to women to have more children are tainted by LKY’s crackpot eugenic theories. The Working Mothers Child Relief is specifically targeted at encouraging better-off working women to have more children up to a maximum of $80,000 being shielded from tax. Presumably LKY intended to encourage Chinese women to have more babies to offset the higher birth rates among Malays and Indians.
The Baby Bonus Child Development Account also rewards those who already have more resources since it provides for the Government to match parental savings up to $3,000. Resources should surely be targeted at the children who have least.
While the Government makes statistics on child poverty hard to come by, Tommy Koh’s assertion a few years ago that a third of children go to school without breakfast is probably accurate, even though he was forced to retract it.
The Government is relaxed about native-born Singaporeans failing to reproduce themselves and eventually dying out because it can always, at least for now, replace them with immigrants from the poorer parts of the world. Presumably once Asia’s population peaks it will turn to Africa, whose population is still growing very fast.
Here is what Josephine Teo said in March 2018:
“At around the current rates of immigration, we are close to achieving the same effect as if we had full-replacement TFR. Therefore, we do not expect any major changes to our immigration policy presently. In other words, with a moderate level of immigration, we can prevent the citizen population from shrinking in the long term.”
The Government is relaxed if native born Singaporeans die out. In fact it prefers it that way. As we all know, grateful new citizens are more likely to vote for them. Since the Government is a free rider since it does not have to pay their education costs they are a net contributor to revenues from day one. Foreign workers also help to skew Singapore’s GDP per capita ratio ( by pushing up the ratio of employed workers to total population since they usually do not have any dependents) and thus bamboozle gullible foreigners into believing in the Singapore economic miracle.
Some might argue that the immigrants contribute by augmenting the worker to retiree ratio which is often cited as a reason for current policy. However senior citizens receive almost no benefit from the PAP Government and almost half have inadequate incomes after retirement. I advocated a $500 per month pension payment but that was also dismissed as far too costly.
As I have speculated before, perhaps the PAP’s ultimate goal will be to have 90% of the population consist of transient workers and expats while the remaining 10% are the PAP elite including those connected to the ruling dynasty, rather like the oil-rich sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. At that point it will no longer be necessary to save for a rainy day and our sovereign wealth funds can be wound up and the proceeds distributed among the few Singaporeans left. That is, if there is anything left after a few more years of enjoying the benefits of the PM’s wife’s legendary investment skills.