On 3 February, I sent this inquiry to the National Population and Talent Division:
I am writing to inquire if the division has done any work evaluating the effectiveness and possible shortcomings of the measures recently proposed to arrest the plummeting TFR. Although the measures have been well-documented and relentlessly advertised to the public, the division has not released any serious analysis of these measures.
What are the chances that the M&P package will succeed in reversing the downward TFR trend? What are some of its potential shortcomings? Has the division considered any alternative policies to those ultimately implemented?
Thank you for your time,
They finally replied on 29 April. You can determine for yourself if their response was helpful in any way.
Dear Mr Hou,
Thank you for your email.
2. The Government is committed to providing a pro-family environment that will support Singaporeans in getting married and having children. In January 2013, we announced enhancements to our Marriage and Parenthood (M&P) Package, which seeks to strengthen the pro-family environment, and address some of the practical concerns Singaporeans face. In developing our marriage and parenthood measures, we have drawn on suggestions made by Singaporeans during the consultation period from 28 Jun to 31 Oct 2012. In total, we received more than 800 pieces of feedback on marriage and parenthood issues. We also engaged various stakeholders such as community organisations and employers as well as the members of the public. These feedback have helped to shape our policy enhancements.
3. Besides public feedback, we have also looked at the experiences of various countries, and studied their approaches in improving birth rates. In June 2012, we published an Occasional Paper titled Marriage & Parenthood Trends in Singapore which highlighted some of the key learning points we had garnered. In addition, in January 2013, we released findings from the Marriage and Parenthood Study 2012. This study surveyed a total of 4,646 respondents aged 21 to 45 years old, to understand the attitudes and motivations behind Singapore residents’ marriage and parenthood trends. In reviewing our measures, we have taken into account some of the learning points highlighted in the Occasional Paper and the Marriage and Parenthood Study. (These can be found at the NPTD website www.nptd.gov.sg)
4. The M&P Package has provided significant support to many families in their marriage and parenthood journeys. Since the introduction of the M&P Package in 2001, the measures have benefitted the families of about 350,000 children. Moreover, the measures within the M&P package have been well-received and appreciated by parents. For example, the Marriage and Parenthood Study 2012 found that maternity leave and the Baby Bonus cash gift were the top two policies that would most likely persuade married respondents to have children or to have more children. Also, in the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Perception of Policies Survey on the 2008 M&P package conducted in 2010, 53% of the married couples surveyed said that the M&P Package has made it conducive for them to have children. 69% said that the Baby Bonus scheme would influence couples like themselves to have children.
5. Beyond Government measures to help raise our TFR, we recognise the need to shape mindsets and foster a pro-family culture. In this area, society at large has a role to play in shaping positive mindsets towards marriage and parenthood and to encourage Singaporeans to put families first and celebrate family life. We will continue to work with our partners in this regard, including employers, people sector organisations and other community groups, to promote the importance of family, and to encourage Singaporeans to consider family as central to our life choices and sense of fulfilment.
6. As with all other policies, we will review the measures in the Marriage and Parenthood Package from time to time, and we will continue to study ideas and suggestions from the public.
7. Thank you and have a good week ahead.
Kiang Kai Lun (Mr)
Executive (Marriage & Parenthood Policy Directorate)
National Population and Talent Division
Prime Minister’s Office