Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng claims it's an uphill task to persuade Singaporeans to have more children, "The going is hard, but we have not given up. We will continue to support couples' decisions to get married and have children, and create a pro-family environment." So how sincere is the level of support?
Just look at the incentives the government Baby Bonus Scheme spells out on their website:
- Cash gift of up to $4,000 each for your 1st and 2nd child and $6,000 each for your 3rd and 4th child;
- Contribution in Children Development Account (CDA), a special savings account in which your savings is matched to the cap of $6,000 each for the 1st and 2nd child, $12,000 each for the 3rd and 4th child and $18,000 each for the 5th and subsequent child.
Now, according to APM, France has Europe's second-highest birth rate in part because of incentives offered by the government. Way back in 2006, they were already offering:
- 3-year paid parental leave with guaranteed job protection upon returning to the workforce;
- Universal, full-time preschool starting at age 3;
- Subsidized daycare before age 3;
- Stipends for in-home nannies; and
- Monthly childcare allowances (about $540) that increase with the number of children per family.
Singapore lawyer T. Chin explains why she has no intention of having children as yet, "It's a question of opportunity cost, and I can't afford the downtime from my career. Furthermore, speaking from my own experience as an only child, children are really expensive." It's worse when you have to count on the support of a complacent minister.