Low birth rate? Don’t discriminate against children from single parent families

Posted on 28 February 2011

Wong can sing, can dance, and can tell you to make more babies. By Fang Shihan

Photo: Swerz / Creative Commons

IN AN interview published in TODAY last Saturday, DPM Wong Kan Seng commented that the high fertility rate in Nordic countries such as Sweden and Norway were due to many people having babies out of wedlock.

He was responding to calls for more government spending on family support. Sweden spends 3% of its GDP on baby-inducing schemes and ‘enjoys’ a total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.9.

The article goes on to blame the low TFR in Singapore (1.16) on the rising trend of singlehood. Because married couples in Singapore have an average of 2.1 children each.

And the solution? Getting more people hitched, married and *poof!* babies are supposed to appear magically.

The government now spends $1.6 billion on the Marriage and Parenthood package. However, Wong does not see the need to increase the budget because  it does not guarantee a higher TFR.

Instead, the Government would continue to provide opportunities for singles to get hitched, and hopefully married before getting laid.

If this move sounds odd or even slightly embarrassing, you’re probably in the minority.

The Straits Times quoted an operations officer, aged 35, two weeks back, commenting that the whopping budget could also be used to subsidize attendance in dating agencies. There has been no article yet articulating the tragedy that we’ve become so dependent on the gahmen that we even need help from them to get some.

I’d like to propose a more elegant solution to fixing our TFR problem. Instead of beating around the bush and getting picky singles to lower unrealistic expectations or increasing incentives for Singaporean to produce babies within an archaic institution, why not just support babies emerging from alternative families?

But no. Apparently unlike the Nordics, society here still views babies being born outside of marriages, negatively. And the government doesn’t want to lead social trends in these value-loaded issues.

Start a large-scale propaganda campaign (and don’t deny that it doesn’t ever happen) to engender positive perceptions of single parent families, and then reform current population policies to be in tune with an increasing number of nontraditional families.

So here we find a problem:

1) There’s been a trend of babies popping up outside of marriages, in countries that are considered more developed.

2) Babies outside of marriage are not condoned by society

3) Government policy cannot support babies outside of marriage…until (2) changes.

So we end up throwing $1.6 billion to encourage people to get married, even though this can neither guarantee more babies nor can it guarantee the more important component for the production of a sensible thinking citizen – a good childhood.

It’s a chicken and eggless situation. The government expects more babies (from single parents) to be born, before policy changes are made. At the same time, fertility policies have to change first because its the main obstacle preventing the conception, or adoption of babies in non-traditional families.

Here’s a great solution:

Start a large-scale propaganda campaign (and don’t deny that it doesn’t ever happen) to engender positive perceptions of single parent families, and then reform current population policies to be in tune with an increasing number of nontraditional families.

There! Fixes the problem of political feasibility and TFR. It all depends on how badly the government feels the TFR problem needs to be solved.

After all, the regime never seemed to have a problem with politically unpopular moves. If crazy policies like the Graduate Mother Scheme were actually implemented to increase the number of smart people in the Singaporean gene pool, why not the Single Parent Scheme, or Cohabitating Couples Scheme, or even kids from Homosexual Parent Families Scheme?

Oh wait. But that could harm the delicate constitutions of our picture perfect political elite.

Do we have an MP that’s a single parent? Or homosexual? Nope.

But we did have a hard-core, gay-hating Christian-fundamentalist NMP at one point. Go figure.

Society frowns upon things nontraditional. Big deal. Society used to frown upon oral sex not too long ago as well.

But if we really do have an activist government that prides itself on implementing regular policies to pragmatically fix problems in society, they need to live up to their own name. There is a solution to fixing the low TFR, it’s all about how badly you want it.

This post was written by:

- who has written 230 posts on New Nation.


Contact the author

  • Anonymous Coward

    I propose that the government does away with alternate street lamps for a more “conducive” environment…

  • http://single-parent-meets.com single parent dating site

    Ive been reading your blog for quite sometime. And I want to thank you for all these nice posts. Can you post more often? I’m very much interested on dating single parent like me