February 21st, 2011 | The government of Singapore will look at ways to help single men and women find partners in a bid to tackle the falling fertility rate, a local newspaper reported on Monday.
More people are staying single and those who are married are putting off having babies, the Straits Times quoted Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan as saying.
Balakrishnan said the issue would be an area of focus at the parliament discussions next week, but he did not elaborate on the details of the plan.
“We know the vast majority of people do want to get married; we need to help them find the right partner and also see what other needs they feel need to be addressed so they can settle down early and start a family,” he said.
Singapore’s fertility rate dropped to a new low of 1.16 last year, according to data released in January.
Balakrishnan said married couples on average have about two children, which is “healthy.”
“This means if a couple get married, they usually on average will have around two children,” he said.
The government did not give much of a boost to its incentives for couples to have babies when it unveiled the budget for the fiscal year.
Balakrishnan also said the government did not plan to offer any more baby incentives at this point.
“The package was just enhanced in 2008. The recession had an impact on the total fertility rate. We are still evaluating the impact of the current measures, so there are no announcements to be made this time round,” he said.
The increase in singles is the sharpest among women aged 25 to 29, with the proportion climbing from 45.5 percent in 2000 to 62 percent last year.
The Singapore government set up the Social Development Unit in 1984 to promote marriages among graduate singles, and formed the Social Development Services a year later to help non-graduate singles. The two units were merged in 2009 and renamed the Social Development Network.