A wider shift towards a more pro-family culture in Singapore is needed to encourage young people to start their own families, says Manpower Minister Josephine Teo. Policy measures alone will not be sufficient, she added.
In an interview with The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao earlier this month, Mrs Teo, who oversees population matters, said the Government has been encouraging Singaporeans to start families earlier through various measures to meet housing aspirations, ramping up pre-school places and quality, and improving community and workplace support.
The average numbers of marriages and births in the past five years are higher than in the previous five-year period but figures last year may have taken a further dip. Ms Teo revealed that this generation of “echo boomers” – children of the baby boomers who are in their late 20s and early 30s – have contributed to the lower marriage and birth rates.
“Birth rates are really more influenced by values, social norms and people’s attitudes towards marriage and parenthood. These things don’t change very much in the short term,” she said.
According to a survey conducted by the National Population and Talent Division, supportive workplaces was critical to most. A total of 92 per cent of those polled said supportive bosses and understanding colleagues are “very important” in helping them meet work and family responsibilities.
“Over the long haul, people’s comfort in starting families is also shaped by culture at the workplace, whether they feel a sense of encouragement, whether the attitudes of bosses, co-workers are supportive,” said Mrs Teo. “This also shapes individuals’ thinking about whether they should have a second child, or third.”
Image: The Straits Times