006 • MARINA EAST, SINGAPORE

Click for Lightbox. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

A THURSDAY IN AUGUST, 18:09:34

Singapore lacks babies. At least, that’s what the government there has you believe.

2017 had the lowest birth rate for the island nation in seven years: ‘39,615 births were registered’ is how the official statisticians say it. Makes you wonder for a sec: how many births went unregistered? But then you realize this is Singapore. Nothing goes unregistered.

And while the number of births (registered!) sank four percent year on year, the number of deaths in 2017 rose by, wait for it, four percent.

If Singaporeans want to keep their island populated with Singaporeans, each fertile woman should give birth to 2.1 baby. Now, they’re only putting 1.16 baby on earth. That last year was the auspicious Year of the Rooster, one of the better ones in the Chinese Zodiac to be born in, didn’t get numbers up.

So yeah, without immigration extinction dooms.

Life is too expensive and the future too uncertain, is what you hear from Singaporeans as reasons for having only one kid, two at most.

The government runs a Baby Bonus program, showering parents with thousands of dollars and more for every additional kid they have. It’s not been enough to turn the tide.

What probably doesn’t help is that the Baby Bonus government website says it cannot be reached during nights from Saturdays into Sundays ‘due to scheduled maintenance’.

So after the biggest party night of the week, the info on how much money having a kid earns you is inaccessible. That might put an extra dent in the birth rate. I’d advise scheduling that maintenance on say, Monday mornings.

This just went through my head when I stumbled upon this giant baby balloon set against the Singapore skyline.