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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Low Fertility Rate in Singapore 1

The issues of low fertility rate and widening income gap have been fervently discussed in the local newspapers. These issues have really drawn me to the papers and to keep in touch with the updated information, despite the exams taking up most of my time. Finally, I now have the time to discuss and post on issues that I interest me.

This blog was first started with a purpose. Or shall I say, a number of purposes. (1) To discuss some scientific research that has interested me, (2) To talk about things and happenings in my life and (3) To discuss social issues so as to keep in touch with my English.

But as the blog continued to grow in length, width and depth, it has at some times deviated from the above-stated purposes. But it’s alright. This is just a blog, not a news website or something that needs to follow a set of guidelines and purpose.

So coming back to the issue that I wish to write about, after a month-long hiatus. First, there was the issue on the widening of the income gap in Singapore. Because of this and as a solution to this, the government has come up with the rise in the GST from 5% to 7%. GST is short for Goods and Services Tax.

Though it has some economic benefits in general, how will the low-income people cope with such a high tax? I don’t want to discuss about whether the policy implemented by the government is right or wrong here. I don’t have enough knowledge of the economics and hence, if I say something, it would have no basis.

But I was thinking. Is there a connection between this widening of income gap and the low fertility rate in Singapore?

Singaporeans are economically hard-driven and do not even know the true meaning of fun and relaxation. Perhaps, I’m generalizing here. But it’s partially true. Almost everyone here wants to earn a lot of money, buy a condo and own a car. It has become something like a culture.

Then it is not surprising to know that home-ownership in Singapore is 91.7% among the resident owners. The education system in Singapore is also fairly competitive and what every student ever thinks about is results. Amongst all these, there is no wonder why marriage is postponed, in the case of the singles; there is no wonder why childbearing is postponed, in the case of the married couples.

The widening of income gap in Singapore alone is not that significant compared to that in the international level. But still, there is this group of people in Singapore striving to earn a lot of money and upgrade themselves from a 5-room flat to a condominium. Then there is another group of entrepreneurs, constantly accumulating a lot of wealth. The number of millionaires in Singapore is on the rise(1). There is also this group of people struggling to earn enough money to meet the increasing cost of living in Singapore.

The constant drive to accumulate material wealth has caused both the widening income gap and the low fertility rate. I’m not saying that it is the sole cause or whatever. But it has directly or indirectly caused these two conundrums that Singapore is now facing. Of course, I’m not neglecting the other causes.

(1) There are 48,500 millionaires in Singapore. The number of millionaires in Singapore rose at the fastest pace in the world in 2004, according to a report by Cap Gemini & Merrill Lynch & Co. Singapore millionaires rose 22.4 percent to 48,500, the report said.


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