Just a thought as a marketing guy and a Singaporean: if Singapore wants to persuade more people to have children, it should have very accessible resources to help people think and plan about having childcare.
I can use myself as an example. I’m 25 years old, as is my wife. We aren’t thinking about kids at the moment. Even DECIDING to think about kids means sitting down and doing a lot of cost analysis, a lot of inquiring and asking around. What are all the things that I’ll have to know, worry about, pay for?
We’re still putting off the decision to to think about it. You gotta make sure your health and finances and psychological well-being and living arrangements are all reasonably well-prepared for the coming (literal) shitstorm.
A lot of people say things like, “Don’t worry so much lah, just have the kid first and you’ll figure it out along the way.” I find that to be a horrifyingly irresponsible idea. If you’re having a kid, you gotta get it right. Or at least be aware of the tradeoffs you’re making along the way. Or at least make a decent attempt.
If you’re going to sell something, your job is to allay all of the worries and concerns of your potential customer. So far, all I’m really hearing is things like “children are a joy!” and “don’t wait too long ah!”. What I’m more interested in hearing is “the full set of things you’ll encounter is ABCDEFGH…”. You might say “the list is endless”, but the response to that should be “then prioritize, and do the best you can!”
If increasing our TFR is a concern, there ought to be well-funded government agency producing great content to make sure that every Singaporean parent-to-be is super well-informed of all their choices and all their options. If there is one, I haven’t heard of it.
If you Google “starting a business in Singapore”, the top result is from the Ministry of Manpower.
If you Google “raising a child in Singapore” or “having a baby in Singapore”, Ah Kong is nowhere to be found. (Top hit for “having a baby in Singapore” for me is from expatliving.sg).
I think it would be accurate to say that if we had all of the information readily available in advance, from sources that we trust, we might make the decision to have a kid sooner rather than later. “Baby bonuses” aren’t nearly as important as “we have a pretty good idea of what we’re about to do”.
When we look around us, we don’t think “we’re not having kids because we don’t have enough money”. We’re thinking “we’re not even THINKING of having kids until we’re reasonably sure that we’re not going to screw them up”.
That is the real fear, to be honest. “What if we have kids, and we’re not adequately prepared, and we struggle to balance their needs and our own, and we resent them (and each other?!) for it, and we end up having an unhappy, miserable family?”
It’s a real thing to be concerned about.