The changing demographics of Singapore will pose a significant hurdle for the nation. In 2010, the fertility rate was an all time low of 1.16, way below the replacement level of 2.1. A recent IPS study also warns that if fertility rates were to remain the same, there would be severe implications on Singapore’s ability to compete in the global world.
More needs to be done to address the declining TFR. Besides taking a microscopic analysis of the current procreation package, there is also a need to have a macroscopic review of the social support required to encourage Singaporeans to have more children, including childcare and preschool facilities as well as more family friendly workplace arrangements.
Taiwan, which has the lowest TFR in the world, has
seen a surge of 16% of babies born in the first 9 months of this year, after
the government offered incentives to couples in a bid to boost the dismal birth
rate. Are there lessons we can learn from the Taiwanese to help reverse this worrying trend in Singapore?
This problem will be exacerbated by a rapidly aging population or what is called the silver tsunami. With 20% of the population above the age of 65
come 2030, we need to prepare ourselves right now to ensure that those who need help are taken care of, medically and socially. With more elderly Singaporeans, the demand for healthcare services will inevitably increase and many will suffer from age-related chronic diseases. This dual pronged danger, if not met and addressed, will leave us with an elderly population supported by fewer and fewer working adults – a high dependency ratio.
Hopefully, the dragon year in 2012 will offer a ray of hope in chasing the elusive dragon babies.