Higher public policy spending may not lead to more babies: DPM Teo
Higher spending on pro-parenthood policies may not necessarily lead to more births, as there are many other factors as work.
This is a point that Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean made in response to questions on what lessons can be learnt from European countries on population growth.
He cited reports which showed that out-of-wedlock births made up about half of all births in Sweden, Denmark and Norway in 2010.
However, Asian societies including Singapore, continue to value having children within marriage.
And while Nordic countries with high Total Fertility Rates (TFR) of between 1.88 and 1.98, such as Sweden and Norway, have a wide range of pro-parenthood measures such as generous leave provisions and financial support for child raising costs, they also have significantly higher tax rates.
The personal income tax rates in the Nordic countries range from 29% to 63%, compared to Singapore's personal income tax rates of between 3.5% and 20%.
Mr Teo said the government is studying other countries in reviewing policies to support marriage and parenthood, with $1.6 billion already set aside per year for a broad range of measures.
But he said Singaporeans must also play their part in boosting the population.
"Relying on Government measures alone would not raise Singapore's birth rate, as getting married and having children are personal decisions that reflect broader social values and attitudes.
To support and encourage Singaporeans, we will need to strengthen Singapore's pro-family environment, where employers, family members and society-at-large all have a part to play."
"If you look at the nordic countries or even the european countries such as Germany, Sweden and Norway, their paid parental leave is more than 40 weeks for both parents, compared to our 16 weeks plus three days."
"The last we looked at maternity leave, we were very careful because there was also another group of persons who were very concerned that this would impact upon the employability of women and so that was a fairly large area of concern. I wanted to make sure that we did not, through making more generous maternity leave provisions impact on women being employed. We are open to ideas on how this can be done and I do support having some signal and some practical measures in which men are encouraged to take a greater role in parenthood and being a present parent instead of a parent from a distance."
And to address that, MP for Marine Parade GRC, Seah Kian Peng said paternity leave should be legislated - something that many young couples want to help with parenting, which is a shared responsibility.
Mr Seah also wanted more subsidies for In vitro fertilisation or IVF to help boost Singapore's Total Fertility Rate.
Mr Teo said he would consider all suggestions.
But others had even more controversial ideas to grow the population.
"I would like to ask a very controversial question to DPM, would he consider"baby-drop" since Malaysia is doing that and we are having this population problem. Is it possible that he would consider a baby drop for Singaporeans to drop their babies in case their child is born out of wedlock?"
"As Mrs Chiam says, this is a controversial area, and I think we must be very careful when we implement such measures whether or not we end up inadvertently encouraging unwanted pregnancies and births and causing greater problems as a result of that."
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