Monday, June 1, 2009

Singapore’s population crisis in a nutshell

In 1959, when Singapore won independence from Britain, there were 62,464 births.

Last year, there were just 39,935, despite the fact that the population of the city-state has more than trebled from 1.58 million to 4.84 million in the intervening period.

That level of reproduction is simply not adequate to sustain strong economic growth, which is why Singapore is so dependent on bringing in foreign workers.

Hat-tip to the Straits Times Merdeka (Independence) supplement that was published over the weekend to commemorate the end of British rule.


  1. I'd translate Merdeka as Freedom. Didn't Lee have some "graduate breeding programme"?

  2. When i came to Singapore in 96 you could still see Government posters in some of the less maintained poster locations saying enjoy yourself and dont have kids. A whole generation was programed not to breed using the very logical argument that its actually bad for you to have children. I do however have 3 childless unmarried female Singaporean friends in their late 30's and early 40's who are now travelling to either JB or Europe to have IVF treatment to get pregnant as single parents (giving IVF to singles is illegal in Singapore i believe). So there may be a trend of 30 something singles parents responding to their body clocks. I doubt however that old people having children is generally a good thing since taxpayers will have to pick up the burden as either their married or un-committed lovers run for the hills.

    If you remove the emotion/hormonal element and operate at the logical level there is no logical reason to have kids in first world countries. Tax and investment schemes are more likley to take care of you in your old age and kids tend to tie you to a single partner which despite the soppy movies people really dont want to do.

    Kids are required to act as a pension and health scheme in third world countries so it clearly makes more sense.

    To me kids are like paying tax. I know its absolutely the right to do it for the general good of society but I would much rather not take the burden myself. I will not be spending my declining with age salary funding a selfish teen through expensive education and lifestyle choices.