Remko Tanis • 27 November 2018

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, if it wasn’t for immigration, extinction would doom.

Cemetery in Singapore. While the birth rate declined 4 percent, the number of deaths rose by 4 percent. (C) Photo: Remko Tanis

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. The firstborn gets SGD 8000 (EUR 5125), just like the second one. From the third baby onwards, the government pays expecting parents SGD 10,000 (EUR 6405) for each new citizen they produce. It’s not been enough to turn the tide.

Singapore Flyer seen from the Gardens by the Bay. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

What probably doesn’t help either 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.