Jan 27, 2011
I AGREE with Ms Laurelle He ('Encourage gender equality and the babies will come'; last Saturday). In Sweden, if parents care jointly for the child, they are entitled to 240 days' leave each with parental benefit. Monthly child allowance of 1,050 Swedish kronor (S$205) per child is also paid up to and including the quarter when the child reaches the age of 16.
If Singapore makes a paradigm shift and matches the Swedish family benefits, I am sure Singaporeans could do much better.
Our declining birth rate was largely due to social and economic transformation during the last 50 years, when more women with better education joined the workforce. Materialism and pragmatism have forced child-bearing to take a backseat. The trend seems irreversible due to changing perceptions.
I did a cursory comparison of Singapore's TFR to its gross domestic product (GDP) over the last 60 years, and found our TFR to be inversely proportional to our GDP.Until we change the economic model to be more family-friendly, the falling birth rate may slide further.
[Wow! Amazing! Stop the press! Economic development is inversely proportional to TFR!
Big Fat hairy Deal.
So? The solution is to reduce economic growth until we have unemployment, poverty, barely enough to eat, no money for entertainment, can't afford TV and sex is our only recreation, then produce more children?
Why don't you do a correlation between infant mortality rate and TFR. Inversely proportional also right? So does that mean we should cut down on post-natal and infant care, increase infant mortality, and so people would produce more children as insurance against losing some of them?
Or do a correlation between education and TFR or education level of women and TFR. The more education you put in a woman the less babies come out right? So? Ban education for women?
The GDP - TFR link is a correlation not causation unless a clear hypothesis as to causation can be tested and proven/disproved.
The problem of the TFR is a complex issue. The question is not should we have strong economic growth or more children. The question should be how do we have more children while sustaining our economic growth.
There does not seem to be any simple solution. Feedback cannot totally be trusted as people use this issue to blackmail the government - give me a flat, a maid, COE/Car, maternity leave, paternity leave, childcare leave, subsidy, priority, medical, career guarantee, etc THEN I will have more babies.
Simplistic answers with meaningless stats are not helpful.]