Is it too expensive to have children in Singapore?

6

The results of the 2021 Marriage and Parenthood survey by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) has just came out, and the results are pretty interesting. 

Let’s look at some of the interesting responses.

This article was submitted by a Guest Contributor. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the Guest Contributor.

Marriage?

Marriage is still on the cards for most young Singaporeans. 

A majority (80%) of young single respondents (aged 21-35) indicated that they intend to marry. This is a slight decline compared to 2016 (83%) and 2012 (86%).

There seems be contentment with staying single. 

A significant proportion of single respondents have never dated before, and are not proactive in dating.

Of the single respondents surveyed, 50% were not currently dating. 38% of those who were not currently dating had never dated before.

The use of dating websites and apps have become more prevalent. Around 58% were comfortable with meeting a partner through online dating websites or apps.

Priorities

Similar to previous surveys, a majority of single respondents (75%) indicated that having a career and raising a family were equally important.

14% saw family as more important than career, a slight decline from previous years. 

Expectations vs Reality

The survey gave a really interesting look into the ideal, intended and actual number of children among respondents surveyed. 

When asked about their ideal number of children, the vast majority (92%) of married respondents indicated preference to have two or more children, comparable to previous surveys.

However, in practice, about half of married respondents (51%) had fewer than two children.

Rising Costs 

Understandably, the key considerations behind deciding whether to have children, centre around the costs of child-raising, as well as being able to manage work and family commitments.

Financial cost was the most common reason cited by married respondents who did not want to have (more) children.

Almost 50% of respondents indicated that raising children in Singapore is too stressful. 

Another major factor was whether they would be able to cope with both work and family demands (34%).

Quite a number also noted that there was a lack of good caregiving arrangements (17%). 

I am your Father

Almost all (99%) married respondents agreed that fathers and mothers were equally important as caregivers for children.

95% agreed that both parents should share equal responsibilities at home.

Gender norms are shifting (*slow clap*).

The proportion of those who felt that “ideally, the mother should take care of her children full-time” fell from 56% in 2016 to 40% in 2021 for married respondents.

But!

Married women continued to do more at home compared to their husbands, primarily in the area of child-related care.

On average, women spent about 6 hours on a normal weekday on childcare, and 10 hours on weekends. In contrast, men reported an average of 3.6 hours on weekdays and 7.7 hours on weekends.

In general, women were less satisfied with the division of domestic labour compared to their male counterparts, with 59% of women saying they were happy with the division, compared to 72% of men.

Workplaces can do more

Most (77%) married respondents felt that paternity leave would make/had made it easier for them to have children.

Both men and women prefer flexible work arrangements (FWAs), and this was especially important for those with young children (0-6 years).

A large majority of married respondents agreed that the availability of FWAs would make/had made it easier for them to start a family (90%) and have more children (81%).

Fertility health awareness

Many respondents were not not aware that reproduction technology cannot compensate for age-related decline in fertility.

Over 70% of married and single respondents have the misconception that assisted reproductive technologies like IVF would have very high success rates for women above age 40.

Poll Time

Help Singapore’s ageing population!

Poll Maker

 

Is it too expensive to have kids in Singapore? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Hey FH, been an avid reader of your articles for years (since you first started in fact) but its a bit sad to see that most of your useful and interesting finance commentary nowadays are behind a paywall. How do articles like this one on a “parenthood survey” add value to your reader?

  • Haha I actually found this article quite interesting myself, and I do hope fellow parents feel the same way.

    If you find the articles helpful do sign up as a Patron! It’s just 15 bucks a month for the articles, and it does take a lot of time and effort to create high quality content. 🙂

  • I’m lucky to work in a role and company that values output more than hours showing up and flexible work hours. With that, I’m able to take the bulk of parenting duties with some compromise at work.

    Despite that, costs of raising a kid is reasonable until you compound the cost of looking after both sets of parents. Hopefully, we will be able to fix these structural issues (how work is valued in a company/work vs parenting opp cost/retirement needs) by the time my kids are grown up.

  • FH, The survey tells me that a lot of Singaporeans are already stressed with life, and frankly, the idea of children (let alone the reality) stresses me. Our 24/7 world with all its distractions and pressures simply isn’t compatible with having and caring for children. I cannot state this more simply. Irrespective of age old traditions and concepts of marriage and families, the sheer burden of it scares people, and seeing their friends or other family members being tired and over-burdened all the time, always having a mountain of bills, and having no free personal time puts a lot of people off.

    There is a lot of research now that shows that the idea of having children is a lot nicer than the reality of it. Thinking of having kids and sometimes the pregnancy makes people happy but I’m sorry, the reality does the opposite.

    In my case, a long time ago, I spent a few years looking after a niece with special needs (a long story that is not relevant here) and after that, I wondered why anyone in their right mind would ever want kids. And in my mid 60’s, I am have never thought differently.

    I agree that financial issues are a part of the equation, but that is less of an issue for the middle and upper middle classes (and presumably most of your readers fit that category) who across the developed world, have less children in any case. Demanding and time consuming jobs, regular business travel and relentless work pressures are enough to give most of us ulcers (yeah I have them) without additional demands.

    We cannot ever go back to the old ways of doing things. In my life, western societies have entirely changed and our interconnected and dynamic world don’t suit the old models of life.

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