Father of Singapore says he’s not to blame for country’s low birthrate.

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singapore kids“One, two… and that’s the ideal. Sterilisation – the best method for family limitation” reads a pamphlet from the 1970s that was part of a Singaporean initiative called “Stop at 2”, a plan set to suppress the country’s booming birthrates. Abortion became legal in the 1970’s, cash incentives were offered for sterilisation, female workers were denied maternity leave and families faced fines for each additional child after their second.

The method worked so well that the birthrate fell from 4.3 children per family in 1973 to only 1.44 in 1987 – about the time when the government realised it was a bad idea and said “Have three or more (if you can afford it).”

Flash forward to 2013, where the 1.2 birthrate in Singapore is the lowest worldwide and a growing concern for government officials. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first prime minister of Singapore, said his former policies for birth control weren’t so much to blame and that it was the result of modernisation that led to demographic shift as more women today are career-minded and families more luxury-oriented so that they refrain from having many children.

Lee said if he was in office today (he left the cabinet back in 2011), he would offer huge baby bonuses equal to two years of the average Singaporean’s salary. Yet this plan would not be meant to boost the country’s abysmal fertility rate, but that it would rather, as Lee puts it, “prove that super-sized monetary incentives would only have a marginal effect on fertility rates”.

“I cannot solve the problem, and I have given up. I have given the job to another generation of leaders. Hopefully, they or their successors will eventually find a way out,” said Lee.

The concerns are mainly economical. The government is fearful that there won’t be enough young people paying taxes by 2030 in order to provide services for the 800,000 residents that then will be 60 years old and above. Officials believe that in 2020 the population will peak at 3 million and then decline.To put things into further perspective, if every woman in Singapore married and had two children, the population would be replacing itself.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

“One, two… and that’s the ideal. Sterilisation – the best method for family limitation” reads a pamphlet from the 1970s that was part of a Singaporean initiative called “Stop at 2”, a plan set to suppress the country’s booming birthrates. Abortion became legal in the 1970’s, cash incentives were offered for sterilisation, female workers were denied maternity leave and families faced fines for each additional child after their second.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

singapore kids“One, two… and that’s the ideal. Sterilisation – the best method for family limitation” reads a pamphlet from the 1970s that was part of a Singaporean initiative called “Stop at 2”, a plan set to suppress the country’s booming birthrates. Abortion became legal in the 1970’s, cash incentives were offered for sterilisation, female workers were denied maternity leave and families faced fines for each additional child after their second.

The method worked so well that the birthrate fell from 4.3 children per family in 1973 to only 1.44 in 1987 – about the time when the government realised it was a bad idea and said “Have three or more (if you can afford it).”

Flash forward to 2013, where the 1.2 birthrate in Singapore is the lowest worldwide and a growing concern for government officials. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first prime minister of Singapore, said his former policies for birth control weren’t so much to blame and that it was the result of modernisation that led to demographic shift as more women today are career-minded and families more luxury-oriented so that they refrain from having many children.

Lee said if he was in office today (he left the cabinet back in 2011), he would offer huge baby bonuses equal to two years of the average Singaporean’s salary. Yet this plan would not be meant to boost the country’s abysmal fertility rate, but that it would rather, as Lee puts it, “prove that super-sized monetary incentives would only have a marginal effect on fertility rates”.

“I cannot solve the problem, and I have given up. I have given the job to another generation of leaders. Hopefully, they or their successors will eventually find a way out,” said Lee.

The concerns are mainly economical. The government is fearful that there won’t be enough young people paying taxes by 2030 in order to provide services for the 800,000 residents that then will be 60 years old and above. Officials believe that in 2020 the population will peak at 3 million and then decline.To put things into further perspective, if every woman in Singapore married and had two children, the population would be replacing itself.

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