65 years and over: 7.8%
Life expectancy at birth: 84 years
Population in 2050: 5.56m
To maintain economic growth, the paper argued, the population would have to increase from 5.3 million at present to 6 million by 2020 and to between 6.5 million and 6.9 million by 2030. And unless Singaporeans change their habits, much of this increase would come through immigration.
The paper added weight to a message
Yet, unlike other government campaigns -- to speak Mandarin, say, or give up chewing gum -- this one has failed. Singaporeans have small families. In this they resemble the other Asian 'little Tigers' (
In one ranking of total fertility rates, these five places are at the bottom of the global league, with rates of 1.25 or below, compared with 1.4 in
The consequences of this are stark. From 2020, the number of working-age Singaporeans will decline and by 2030 there will be only 2.1 Singaporeans of working age for every one over 64, compared with 5.9 in 2012.
Everywhere, as people get richer, live in cities and women are better educated, they have fewer children. The Tigers have seen sustained economic growth at rates surpassed only in
In the developing world as a whole, the fertility rate fell by half in fifty years, from six in 1950 to three in 2000. In
Lee, believing intelligence was inherited, wanted above all to encourage more graduate women to have children. The number of graduate men marrying fellow graduates grew sharply. The overall fertility rate did not.
So in all the Tigers, governments are promoting the joys of child rearing.
Maternity pay has been changed from a fixed and low rate to 40 per cent of salary. Employers are now forced to allow mothers to work flexible hours, and the state will pay the school fees of second children.
Even in laissez-faire
It is not just Asian countries that find it hard to boost birth rates once they are in decline but the problem may be especially acute for them for two reasons: first, in these places, it is fairly obvious that their part of the planet is crowded; second, in all of them, for different reasons, immigration as an alternative to indigenous-population growth is controversial. It is an area of policy where governments cannot win.
- India's Neglected Generation
- Can Taiwan Pull China Toward Democracy?
- America's Pivot to Asia a Misguided One
- China's Low-Profile Imperialism
- Dicing with Death Penalties in Indonesia
- Afghanistan: Talking to the Taliban
- A Costly Effort in Afghanistan
- Responsibility for Asian Sweatshop Safety Lies with Us, Too
- Asian Sweatshops: A Floor of Decency
- China and North Korea: A Tangled Partnership
- North Korea Following a Well-Worn Pattern
- The Real North Korea
- Saber-Rattling on the Korean Peninsula
- Japan under Shinzo Abe: Too Nationalist for the Rest of Asia?
- A Legacy of Rogues in Afghanistan
- Afghanistan: Narco-State Building
- Afghanistan: Confronting University Campus Trouble Makers
- Balochistan: Pakistan's Next Headache?
- China a Long Way from Gaining World's Trust
- China's Bulging Piggy Banks
- China: Cheap Labor is Becoming Scarce
- India: Where Girls are in Short Supply
- Japan: And Then There Was One
- Asian Little Tigers have Fewer Cubs
- Astana, The Showcase Capital of Kazakhstan
- Bizarre Belligerence on the Korean Peninsula
- Considering a Departure in North Korea's Strategy
- United States, South Korea Ready to Counter North Korean Aggression
- Philippines Hopes Better Credit Rating Will Draw Investors
- Basketball Diplomacy, Pyongyang Style
- Is International Pressure Failing in Sri Lanka?
- Georgia's Armed Forces: Army of the All or Army of the Few?
- China Begins Efforts to Lift Veil on Officials' Assets
- New Internet Regulations Provide Window into North Korea
- New Faces, Old Tensions in East Asia
(c) 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc. "Asian Little Tigers have Fewer Cubs"