Declining birth rates at world level means the end of humankind, at country level means end of the countries’ culture, at individual level means of the family line. However, all this really doesn’t matter to most people because it just seems so far-fetched and most likely not going to happen when they are still around. Sad but true, humans have been short-sighted since the beginning of time. Humans will never act till something happen that truly impact them significantly – Rise of Terrorism VS Counter-Terrorism, Use of Atomic Bombs and Nuclear Weapons VS Restriction of Armaments, Small Things like a loophole in the operating procedures VS Patching the loophole.
Now, let’s take a look at what the government has done over the years to make having of babies more affordable. Judging for the statistics provided in 2014, I believe the government has found out some reasons for people not having babies. Some factors that cause this will be long working hours and wage.
Long working hours
More time at work means less time at home So less time at home means less interaction with your spouse. Less interaction with your spouse means relationship between your spouse is not going to be very close and so that will mean lesser chance to make babies. More time at work means you will have higher fatigue and stress level as well which contributes to not having babies as well. So it is time to play the game of balance, you need to lose some to gain some – Economic growth VS Birth Rate. But if we think far, having a healthy replacement level of population will ultimately means a robust labour force that will turn means stable economic growth, just at a slower rate. If we forgo the replacement level of population and focus fully on economic growth, of course for the short term, it will mean well but at the long run this adrenaline will not last. But again, do people really care? This may really happen but if I don’t have any offspring, this will not impact me even a little while I am still alive and I do not need to care about the far future.
Time to give back to the society dude… do your part. The whole will not have come to the current stage if not for people who are giving. So companies should also do their part, making prolonged working hours a no-no for their staffs.It may hurt your profit margin but the intangible benefits it brings along will offset the decrease in profit margin or even more. This is one of the reason why the government has prompted the self-upgrading, push for innovative, automation, giving PIC grants. It is to help the companies to improve efficiency with a more skilled workforce and upgrade their technology infrastructures.
Money,money,money, everything in the world is about money. Of course, this will affect the birth rates. The more you earn, the easier is it to let you start a family. This is because cost of living is always a factor when people are considering starting a family. This is where the government has step in to help in this area and the government has been doing good it in. The government has initiatives to increase the wage of the lower income group and provide massive housing grants up to $80,000. There are many subsidies provided in terms of hiring a maid, childcare / infant care centres, child development accounts, baby bonus scheme, Home Ownership Plus Education scheme, tax rebates. All these have help couples tremendously to make starting a family more affordable. The government has done well in this part. This is also another reason for the government to put for self-upgrading for individuals(skill credits) and various WDA grants to ensure that people have the relevant skills for the economy and they will be actively employed and value add to companies they are in, thus securing their positions and wages in the companies.
Marriage and Divorces
Without marriage, there will be no legal babies, so yes marriage will be a reason why birth rates may be low. Judging from the statistics given, the marriage rate is on the unhealthy level, it will mean that for the population to sustain married couples will have to have 5 children on average to make up for the sustainable replacement rate of 2.0. The divorce rates are still manageable and is not of a real immediate concern now as the birth rate is not really affected significantly. Some what are the possible reasons why people are not getting hitched?
1. Still looking for the perfect partner.
2. Too busy with work, no time to socialize around. (Links back to the long working hours)
3. What’s wrong with being Single?
4. Nothing is working out for me.
5. Too shy la.
6. Everything is expensive in Singapore. (Links back to wage)
I will say birth rate is about 3 gears : 1 – Time Gear , 2- Money Gear, 3 – Value Gear. The government has done quite well in the Money Gear, need to put in a bit more effort in the time gear but much more effort needs to be put into the value gear. So what is the value gear?
The Value Gear
Traditionally, people get together and give birth to children because they need to carry on the family line. But in the current state of world, not many people hang on to this belief. People have lost sight of what a family truly means and what being a family mean and can bring about. The value of family has become so insignificant and has often been obscured by avarice, fame, technology and social media. People now live in the state of art of technology and virtual reality where face to face human interactions are getting lesser and lesser as well as paper and money chasing. When there is no push for a need or change, people will stay stagnant. The need to bring the value of family life has to be pushed to the limelight again. This value is always there but not emphasis enough that people often overlooked it. For people who are already parents, remember the first time when your child first call you Mum or Dad? The first time your toddler can walk on his/her own? The time when your child hugs you when you come back from work all tired ? Those feelings cannot be brought by money, it is something so special that it cannot be imitated. Life successful is not about only how much you progress in career, how much you earned. It is also about living life to the fullest and experiencing what it truly is.
I am not saying that starting a family is easy, it has never been easy. It is an experience that money can’t buy, something that you should experience it for yourself to make your life, a life of no regret. Support and necessary guidance must be there and provided in times of need for families and those who wants to start a family. Social media, the double-edged sword, although have diverted our attention away, it can also help in expanding our social circles. It is again the playing of the balancing beam game where players try to strike a balance in everything. The bringing back of the value of family must be amplified and re-cultivated among people. The first step for the push is always hard but not making the step means nothing is going to change. So go out socializing, meet new people, put down your gadgets. The feeling is truly different then cooping yourself up at home…