Singapore Grapples with Historic Low Fertility Rate Below 1% Amidst Population Decline

Singapore, known for its economic prowess and technological advancements, is now facing a critical challenge as its resident total fertility rate (TFR) has dropped to an unprecedented 0.97% in 2023, marking the first time it has fallen below one percent in the nation’s history. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Indranee Rajah revealed this concerning trend to Parliament, emphasizing the implications of a shrinking population and workforce.

The TFR, representing the average number of babies each woman would have during her reproductive years, has steadily declined from 1.12 in 2021 to 1.04 in 2022, and now, 0.97% in 2023. This decline places Singapore among countries with the lowest birth rates globally, with South Korea leading the list at 0.72% in 2023, according to The Straits Times.

Indranee Rajah acknowledged the “twin demographic challenges of a persistently low fertility rate and an ageing population” in Singapore. The birth rate remains below the replacement level of 2.1, raising concerns about the country’s future dynamism and workforce sustainability.

Various factors contribute to Singapore’s low fertility rate, including the disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on couples’ marriage and parenthood plans. Additionally, concerns about the financial costs of child-raising, pressures to excel as parents, and challenges in managing work-family commitments are cited as reasons for the declining birth rate.

Indranee Rajah highlighted the importance of addressing these challenges, as smaller families could lead to increased responsibilities for couples caring for both children and elderly parents. The minister warned that a shrinking workforce poses challenges in maintaining Singapore’s dynamism, attracting global businesses, and creating opportunities for future generations.

The situation in Singapore echoes similar trends in other countries, such as Italy, Spain, Malaysia, and Thailand, where fertility rates have also experienced declines. As the government grapples with this demographic shift, there is a pressing need for comprehensive strategies to encourage family planning and address the economic and societal concerns influencing the younger generation’s perspective on marriage and parenthood.

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