The ever-august and urbane Professor Tommy Koh is the latest in a line of SG thought leaders calling Singaporeans to take a leaf out of how they do things in Scandanavia.
From closing the wage-gap chasm to getting more SGreans to have more kids, Prof Koh believes that the Norse countries have something to teach us benighted dumbos 1 degree north of the equator.
At least that’s what I gather from his paper now embedded in the Internet here and is causing much chatter in cyberspace.
His expalantion for SG’s total fertility rate falling way below replacement level? The paucity of well-located child care facilities, unbalanced work life and male chauvinism.
I certainly don’t agree with the male chauvinism part, especially looking at him with his gentle ways and soft words. Moreover in SG, we have the Women’s Charter for well nigh half a century and which made one male friend to crack that SG women can become more equal to men only if we gave up some of our rights 😆 😆
As for child care and work life imbalance, I respectfully suggest that Prof Koh is putting the cart be4 the horse.
It’s more — or less — simple than that, depending on your viewpoint.
Fact is, in SG, due to our education and our upbringing inculcating a deep sense of what’s wholesome and right in us, few couples would dream of becoming parents be4 they are married. Even those who are living together without marriage won’t dream of having kids!
Stemming from this, those who become parents usually want to be responsible providers. Which for them means having a nest of their own to welcome the next generation.
By contrast, look at what a summary of a recent OECD report has to say about TFR in developed countires:
“In general, countries with higher fertility rates in 2009 also display higher share of out-of-wedlock births… There are large differences across OECD countries in the proportion of children born outside of marriage: this proportion varies from less than 10% in Korea, Japan and Greece, to 50% or more in France, Slovenia, Mexico and the Nordic countries (except Denmark)..”
Well, if SG wants to raise its TFR, the way to go may be to encourage more SG women across all economic and education strata to become unmarried mums and for there to be no stigma attached to their offspring.
True, the OECD summary also said there is no clear relationship between the increase in births out of wedlock births and changes in fertility (the relevant correlation coefficient is less than 0.5).
Conversely, it needn’t mean that if SG lifts its communal disapproval of “illegitimate” babies, it won’t lead to a better TFR.
In fact, isn’t it true in SG that women who have more children tend to be those who are less fussed about their marital status or indeed whether they and/or their partner are able to afford their kids?
So the $64 billion question is whether we as a society would find it more acceptable to make it chic to be unwed mums than having a rising tide of immigrants to make up for what the stock didn’t bring?
We can’t have our cake and eat it, you know! 🙄