At an event organised by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Singapore yesterday (10 Oct), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the audience that Singapore needs new people to fill up the new towns and industries his government is building (‘New towns, industries are being built, now what S’pore needs are new people: PM Lee‘).
“We have so many plans for Singapore, in terms of new industries, new businesses, new schools, new opportunities, new towns to live in, new parks — a new society to be built for the next generation. And what we need are new people — our children,” he said.
He opined that Singapore’s population can grow “a little bit” more.
Each year, there are around 35,000 Singaporeans born and 35,000 new permanent residents — out of which about 20,000 become citizens, he revealed. In other words, out of 55,000 new Singaporeans added to Singapore every year, 36 per cent were foreign immigrants.
However, if the birth rates do not improve in four to five years, the population may start to decline, he said. “Our challenge is that one-third of young people do not marry very soon even until their mid-30s,” Mr Lee said.
No money, no marriage
However, many young Singaporeans have commented that they are delaying marriage so that they can focus on building their careers and earning more pay.
Many felt they had to save up before committing to marriage because of the costs involved. These include the wedding reception, which can cost tens of thousands, and the costs of getting a home, renovation, and children.
Mr Kiat Ng, who was married few years ago, said he was broke after finishing his diploma at 26. He did want to get married earlier but his financial situation at the time did not allow him to do so.
“The thought of getting married would cross my mind. I would remember that I had no money, and then I’d forget it,” he revealed. After years of working as a piano technician, he saved up enough to marry his girlfriend.
Others complained that they delayed their marriage to save as much money as possible so as to keep up with the high cost of living.
Mr Hariharaan Malikaffure, a sales engineer who married at 34, said, “When you are single, it’s different. When you are married, you have to save up for your future together with your spouse.”
At least $670,000 needed to raise a child till university
Even after marriage, having a child in Singapore can be a very costly affair.
Last year, SmartParents.sg crunched some figures and got a rough estimate of what it would cost to raise a child in Singapore:
- Pregnancy: At least $8,000
- Age 0 to 2: At least $60,000
- Age 3 to 6: At least $40,000
- Age 7 to 12: At least $70,000
- Age 13 to 16: At least $70,000
- Age 17 to 19: At least $16,000 (JC) or $35,000 (poly)
- Age 19 to 22: At least $40,940 (private) or $118,000 (local university) or $232,000 (overseas university)
The grand total cost of raising a child in Singapore is estimated to be at least $670,000. And that’s not even taking inflation into account.
Of course, in the case of Singapore’s ministers and top civil servants, it’s not really a problem for them to earn that amount and raise any children here in Singapore.