[The Angle] What the 2014 baby and marriage numbers tell usOct 01, 2015 at 9:34 am | Hits: 1865
By Christopher Gee
Yesterday’s Population in Brief 2015 published by the National Population and Talent Division is an annual update that contains, amongst other things, snapshots of Singapore’s marriage and parenthood trends.
There were more citizen marriages and births in 2014. More than 24,000 citizen marriages were registered, the highest since 1997. There were more than 33,000 citizen births; this was, along with citizen births in 2012 (which was the Year of the Dragon), the highest across the last decade.
What has caused this? A deeper look at the numbers suggests that there is perhaps a timing effect taking place with more women in their 30s having their first or second child in 2014. It could also be the result of delayed child-bearing, with women in this age group having postponed their child-bearing for various reasons, but are now starting to be concerned about the biological clock and finding their socio-economic environment conducive to having a child.
This possible factor is visible from the (albeit small) increase in the median age at first birth.
It is still too early to say if the positive numbers from 2014 will lead to a meaningful and sustainable pick-up in fertility and the number of births. There are however, other indicators pointing towards a possible improvement in the number of births in the future.
IPS’ latest Perceptions of Policies in Singapore (POPS) survey examined the attitudes of married Singaporeans towards the 2013 Marriage and Parenthood (M&P) Package. In the report released in July, which I co-authored with Dr Yap Mui Teng and Loh Soon How, we noted that there may well be a demographic boost from relatively larger cohorts of women (born to late Baby Boomers following Singapore’s shift to a pro-natalist policy stance in 1988) reaching their 30s.
These women, the eldest of whom are aged 27 years will be reaching their “biologically optimal child-bearing years” in the next 10 years. With the measures in the M&P Package perceived positively in terms of child-bearing decision-making by this group, and an increase in marriages suggesting that we have more couples on their way to starting a family, there is thus some prospect of a boost in the resident birth-rate in the coming years.
Christopher Gee is a Research Fellow at IPS
Top photo from population.sg.