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Singapore. Population Policies. Case Study: Singapore. Total population = 4.3 million Resident population = 3.5 million Singaporeans and Permanent Residents Fertility rate Declining since 1960s to 1.26 (in 2003) One of the lowest in the world!. Case Study: Singapore.

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Population Policies

Case study singapore
Case Study: Singapore

  • Total population = 4.3 million

  • Resident population = 3.5 million

    • Singaporeans and Permanent Residents

  • Fertility rate

    • Declining since 1960s to 1.26 (in 2003)

      • One of the lowest in the world!

Case study singapore1
Case Study: Singapore

Population changes
Population changes

  • Post-war baby boom followed by a period ofeconomic restructuring and fertility declines that have seen rates continuing to fall afterreaching replacement-level in 1975.

The situation then late 60s 70s
The situation then (late 60s - 70s)

  • Industrialisation

  • Housing shortage

  • Unemployment

  • Net population increase (BR, DR)

  • Incentives for foreign investment

  • Investment in public sector

  • Economic opportunities

  • Education system improvements

  • AIM: Improve standards of living

  • Anti natalist policy 1966 1982
    Anti-natalist policy (1966-1982)

    • 1966: Singapore FamilyPlanning and Population Board (SFPPB)

      • family planning services and

      • to disseminate the small family norm

    • Pop. Growth 2 per cent per year

    • Total fertility rate (TFR) stood at 4.7.

      • AIM: Zero population growth

    Policy actions


    Voluntary sterilisation legalised

    Benefits for sterilized parents

    Priority inprimary school registration

    Reimbursement of delivery fees

    Liberalised abortion


    Delivery fee increases

    No paid maternityleave for women on the birth of their third or subsequent child

    Policy Actions

    Other factors
    Other factors

    • Double-digit growth in GDPwas achieved in the first eight years of nationhood.

    • Socio-economicdevelopment

      • predisposing factors for the adoption of familyplanning

      • contributed to the country’s fertility decline

      • female labour-force participation rate

      • Change in family structure

        • Nuclearisation of Singapore families

        • More living in public housing units

    Policy results
    Policy Results

    • In 1975, replacement-level fertility was reached. Smaller families, later marriages.

    Policy results2
    Policy Results

    “When we adopted these policies they were manifestly right, enlightened and

    the way forward to the future. With the advantage of blinding hindsight,

    educating everybody, yes, absolutely right. Equal employment opportunities,

    yes, but we shouldn't get our women into jobs where they cannot, at the sametime, be mothers…. You just can't be doing a full-time, heavy job like that ofa doctor or engineer and run a home and bring up children …

    It is too late for us to reverse our policies and have our women go back to

    their primary role as mothers, the creators and protectors of the next

    generation. Our women will not stand for it. And anyway, they have already

    become too important a factor in the economy.”

    - then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, in his speech‘Talent for the future’, delivered on 14 August 1983

    Eugenics phase 1983 1986
    Eugenics phase (1983-1986)

    • Educational differential in fertility

    Eugenics phase 1983 19861
    Eugenics phase (1983-1986)

    • Graduate females

      • Marrying later or not at all

      • Giving birth to less children

        • Proportions childless or with only one child tend to increase with bettereducation, rising from about 21 per cent among women with below secondaryeducation to 28 per cent among university graduates.

    Eugenics phase 1983 19862
    Eugenics phase (1983-1986)

    • Intelligence genetically inherited?

      • If yes, intelligent produce less babies, less inteligent produce more babies = lower quality of workforce

      • threaten Singapore’s ability in thelong-term to compete economically on the global stage.

        • Then-Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew

    The great marriage debate
    The Great Marriage Debate

    • Higher educated women

      • (3 or more children)

      • Tax relief

      • Priority for primary school admission

    • Social Development Unit (1984)

      • “promotes marriage among single graduates.”


    The great marriage debate1
    The Great Marriage Debate

    • Discourage lesser-educated women to have children

      • Sterlisation incentive of $10,000

        • No ‘O’ levels, below age of 30

        • Stop after 1st or 2nd child

        • Penalty of repayment of same amount plus interest if they should give birth to a third child

    The great marriage debate2
    The Great Marriage Debate

    • Racial overtones

      • Separation of groups for policy reasons

      • The government worrying about a change in racial composition?

      • Chinese: most educated sub-group


    • Not surprisingly, the eugenics, racial and discriminatory overtones of the policy madeit highly unpopular.

    • The policy era quickly came to pass with a significant loss of votes forthe PAP government at the General Election of 1984

    Pro natalist policy 1987 today
    Pro-natalist Policy (1987 – today)

    • “New Population Policy” in March 1987

    Pro natalist policy 1987 today1
    Pro-natalist Policy (1987 – today)

    • Concerns

      • Rapidly aging population

        • Projections of Singapore’s elderly comprising 25% of thepopulation by 2025, almost matching the working age population which is predicted to standat 30% (Navaneetham, 2002:15)

    Pro natalist policy 1987 today2
    Pro-natalist Policy (1987 – today)

    • ‘Have Three Or More Children If You CanAfford It’

    • Comprehensive package of benefits and policy changes

    • Extensive media campaign immaterial benefits of having children emphasised

    Pro natalist policy 1987 today3
    Pro-natalist Policy (1987 – today)

    • Targets: married couples and unmarried singles.

    • ‘Children – Lifewould be empty without them’

    • ‘Life’s fun when you’re a dad and mum’,

    • ‘The most preciousgift you can give your child is a brother or sister’

    • Unmarried singles werebombarded with reminders not to leave out building a family while climbing the career ladder

    • ‘Why Build Your Career Alone? Family Life Helps’

    • ‘Make Room for Love in YourLife

    • ‘Life Would Be Lonely Without A Family’.

    Policy actions1
    Policy Actions

    • Impact on many policy areas:

      • childcare, primary school registration, housingallocation, and taxation

    • No-pay leave for childcare was extended from 1 to 4 years for women in the civil service,

    • SGD$10,000 cash handout for less-educated mothers who underwent sterilization was removed.

    • Programs set up to discourage both sterilization and abortion

    • Campaigns gradually shifted in focus from the ‘economic burden’ of having children to the emphasis on the immaterial joys that children bring.

    Policy results3
    Policy Results

    • The passing of the 1990s saw little improvement in the fertility situation in Singapore. On thecontrary, Singapore’s total fertility rate (TFR) had dropped from 1.96 in 1988 to 1.42 in 2001.

    Baby bonus scheme 2000
    Baby bonus scheme (2000)

    • ‘Children Development Co-Savings Scheme’ (inshort, the ‘Baby Bonus Scheme’)

    • ‘Third Child Paid Maternity Leave Scheme’ (called‘3CML’)

    • Baby Bonus highly controversial


    Baby bonus scheme 20001
    Baby bonus scheme (2000)

    • S$9000 for 2nd Child (US$5625)

    • S$18000 for 3rd Child (US$11250)

      • Defray costs of raising children

    • Children Development Account (CDA)

      • Government matches dollar for dollar the amount saved in the child’s account

        • Max. $6000 for 2nd child, $12000 for 3rd child, money can be used on all children.

    Baby bonus scheme 20002
    Baby bonus scheme (2000)

    • Public education campaigns

    • Family Matters! Singaporecommittee

      • Aim: “reinforce the family as an institution in Singapore by positioning family wellness and unity as important life goals”, as well as to “facilitate family formation(including procreation) and to build a family-friendly environment”

    Baby bonus scheme 20003
    Baby bonus scheme (2000)

    • By 2002, S$11 million had been disbursed under the Baby Bonus Scheme,

    • S$9 million under the Third Child Paid Maternity Scheme (The Straits Times, 6 April2002).

    • Given the monetary generosity of the scheme, it is not surprising that when the TFRfell further, hitting a historic low of 1.42 at the end of 2001

      • Met with disappointment, frustration, ‘national problem’ with ‘grave’ implications for the economy

    Baby bonus scheme 20004
    Baby bonus scheme (2000)

    • Ministry Community Development and Sports announced a “new operating philosophy”(The Straits Times, 12 April 2002) to promote family-friendly workplaces

      • The Work-Life Unit, the Family-FriendlyFirm Award and the Employer Alliance on Work-Life

    • Civil Service took the lead in this direction, by according marriage and paternityleaves and allowing its agencies to adopt flexi-work practices.

    Romancing singapore
    Romancing Singapore

    • RomancingSingapore campaign was launched in 2003 with the aim of “help[ing] Singaporeansrecognise the importance of family life and, hopefully, tie the knot”(The Straits Times, 7October 2002)

      • Activities organized: free dance lessons and open-air movie screenings in the park, with the website providing anavenue for people to send each other ‘e-cards’ to express their love.

      • Now the website is described as a “business portal”, speed dating events etc.

      • Http://

    Romancing singapore1
    Romancing Singapore

    • Now they deny it… (FAQ from website)

    • Is Romancing Singapore an initiative to increase marriage rate and fertility rate?

    • Romancing Singapore initiatives only providing the opportunities for the singles to interact. The rest is entirely up to them.

    Other policy actions
    Other policy actions

    • First-time flat buyers can rent flats while waiting for their own flats to be built

      • Start families earlier

    • Tax rebates

      • parents with twoto four children

      • third and fourth child for employedmothers with at least 3 or 4 O levels

      • mother is below 31 years of age when she givesbirth to her second child

    Other policy actions1
    Other policy actions

    • Priority in housing allocation

    • Easeof upgrade to larger flats for larger families

    • Facilitated primary school registration

    • Compulsory counseling for couples with only one or twochildren who wanted to get sterilized or undergo abortions.

    Role of wo man
    Role of wo/man

    • Women  ‘nurterers’, primary caregivers

    • Man left out of the equation

      • Maternity leave with no male equivalent

    • 23 years of discriminating against women

      • Cap on the number of women who can train as doctors to one-third of the cohort

      • ‘waste’ to train women who must eventually leave the medical service to fulfill roles as wives or mothers

      • Abolished in Dec 2002

    Role of wo man1
    Role of wo/man

    • The 1990s have seen a turn to the construction of a woman’s childbearing role as her“national duty”

    In conclusion
    In conclusion

    • Cash incentives and tax reliefs

    • Top-down approach

      • Do not work well!

    • Engage more civil society agents

    Fertility and the Family: An Overview of Pro-natalist Population Policies in Singapore by Theresa Wong, Brenda S.A. Yeoh