SINGAPORE — Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office has said that Singapore’s resident total fertility rate in 2022 hit a new low of 1.05, which was lower than the previous records of 1.1 in 2020 and 1.12 in 2021.

Ms Indranee highlighted that the total fertility rate has been declining for several years in Singapore, like other advanced societies, and it refers to the average number of live-births each woman would have during her reproductive years.

Since 2017, Singapore’s figure has remained below 1.2.

For 2022, Ms Indranee noted that the decline was partly due to the Tiger year in the Lunar calendar, which is associated with lower births among the Chinese.

In 2010, which was also a Tiger year, the total fertility rate was 1.15, lower than the years before and after.

Ms Indranee who is also Second Minister for Finance and National Development, said societal trends indicate that more people in Singapore are postponing marriage, delaying having children, or having fewer children, in line with longer-term global trends.

She added that people in Singapore are living longer, with the resident life expectancy at birth having risen to over 83 years today from 72 years in 1980.

Additionally, around one in four Singapore citizens will be aged 65 and above by 2030, making it increasingly challenging to sustain economic growth as the resident workforce increases at a slower rate.

Ms Indranee also mentioned that as family sizes shrink, caregiving needs will intensify, with more Singaporeans facing the dual pressures of raising young children while caring for their elderly parents.

“More Singaporeans will face the dual pressures of raising young children while caring for their elderly parents – and in fact, this is already happening.”

Government to review access to reliable infant care

To better support new parents in caring for their infants, Ms Indranee said the government will review access to reliable infant care.

“We will be reviewing how we can better support new parents in caring for their infants.”

Additionally, Budget 2023 includes measures to boost support for parents and families, such as doubling government-paid paternity leave to four weeks for eligible working fathers, encouraging companies to offer flexible work arrangements, and providing greater priority to first-timer families with children and younger married couples when applying for Build-to-Order flats.

The government has also increased the Baby Bonus Cash Gift by S$3,000 and will contribute more to the Child Development Account.

Singapore granted around 23,100 new citizenships last year

Ms Indranee stressed that welcoming immigrants to Singapore play an important part in moderating the impact of an ageing population and low birth rates.

“While most Singaporeans understand why we need immigrants, there are, understandably, concerns over competition for jobs and other resources, and how the texture and character of our society could change, and whether our infrastructure can keep up,” Ms Indranee told Parliament.

“Since the tightening of our immigration framework in late 2009, we have maintained a measured and stable pace of immigration.”

Singapore granted around 23,100 new citizenships last year, with 1,300 going to children born overseas to Singaporean parents.

Additionally, approximately 34,500 new permanent residencies were granted, according to Ms Indranee.

These figures were slightly higher than those in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Singapore granted 22,714 citizenships and 32,915 permanent residencies.

In-person processes were delayed due to pandemic-related travel restrictions and safe management measures, which prevented some approved applicants from completing the necessary requirements to submit their application.

As a result, some of these applications were deferred to 2022.

When considering citizenship or PR status, Ms Indranee said Singapore evaluates a “comprehensive set of factors” including family ties to Singaporeans, economic contributions, qualifications, family profile, age, and length of stay in the country.

“This ensures that new immigrants are rooted, able to integrate and contribute meaningfully here,” she added.

She also emphasized the need for Singapore to remain open to foreign manpower to address skills shortages and enhance the economy’s productive capacity.

Planning parameter of 6.9 million remains relevant for the 2030s

In response to questions on long-term population projections, Ms Indranee said Singapore’s Government does not rely on a single population planning parameter.

Instead, it uses various scenarios to stress-test assumptions and allow for a range of possible outcomes.

She added that Singapore’s total population is likely to remain significantly below 6.9 million by 2030 based on various scenarios, and that planning for the future is a complex process that must consider population size, composition, and makeup.

She added that the Government will continue to plan ahead, maintain flexibility, respond to new trends and safeguard options for the future, to maintain a good quality living environment and home for all Singaporeans.

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