Just recently, six MPs from the People’s Action Party (PAP) Women’s Wing released a position paper which revealed that 58% of respondents in a survey said that the cost of raising children is a main concern when deciding to have another child.
The paper outlines several financial issues that parents had cited from very high pre-school fees to the high cost of treatment for children with disabilities, which have become impediments to parenthood for many Singaporeans.
According to a poll, families with a combined household income of S$12,000 can spend between 6%-15% of their income on pre-school related out-of-pocket expenses such as school trips and graduation concerns. On top of that, 70.6% of respondents say they’ve used their Baby Bonus cash gift to pay for pre-school fees while many have also depleted their Child Development account funds for the same reason.
“Even with the subsidies that we see currently, many parents are still paying very high out-of-pocket expenses for pre-school,” said Ms Sun Xueling, who led a team of five other MPs in this survey and position paper.
Curiously, this is contrary to the stance taken by PAP MP of Ang Mo Kio Darryl David who had said earlier this year that rising costs are not a factor that Singaporeans consider when deciding to raise children. The member of the supervisory panel of the government’s official feedback arm REACH said on a Money FM podcast in January before the budget announcement, “I’ve never had someone tell me ever that they are not having children because it’s too expensive. Seriously, they’ve never said that.”
While he conceded that there are “significant expenses” with raising a child, he doesn’t agree that “it’s not cheap” to do so. He added, “I have had, to be honest, parents tell me that ‘well I’ve got one kid now’, and they say ‘I’m thinking of having a second kid now but I’m not quite sure lah, because so expensive you know’…when they talk to me they say ‘actually it’s not that I don’t want or I can’t afford to have a second or even a third child, but I’m choosing to have one child because I want to give a lot to that child’”.
Clearly the position paper by the PAP Women’s Wing MPs debunks Mr David’s statements that costs of childcare not the reason why Singaporeans are not having more children.