Findings of Public Consultations on Marriage and Parenthood
The National Population Secretariat (NPS) in the Prime Minister’s Office worked with the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), REACH and the National Family Council (NFC) to facilitate a series of public consultation sessions involving more than 300 participants from April to July 2008, to seek feedback on the marriage and parenthood (M&P) situation in Singapore.
The purpose of the consultation exercise was to enable the Government to better understand the impact of the last Marriage and Parenthood review in 2004, which introduced a package of measures to try and encourage more marriages and births in Singapore.
The 2004 package seems to have arrested the decline in the total fertility rate (TFR) since 2004. After hitting a low of 35,135 in 2004, the number of resident births has increased slightly each year since 2005 and reached 37,074 in 2007. However, our TFR stands at 1.29, a long way below replacement level of 2.1 and one of the lowest in the world.
In MCYS’s survey which polled about 6,000 respondents to understand their perceptions and attitudes towards M&P, 85% of single respondents still desire to marry and almost 80% of married respondents would want two or three children. An encouraging 83% of respondents also felt that the 2004 M&P package had helped to create a more pro-family environment in Singapore.
At the consultation sessions, the public gave feedback on the barriers to translate Singaporeans’ desire for relationship, marriage and parenthood into reality. The key findings are as below:
Socialisation was viewed as the first step towards marriage and subsequent parenthood. While costs could delay marriages, the determining factor was more often than not the ability to meet a suitable partner. Key challenges in socialisation and marriage are as follows:
a. For singles, the common feedback was that they were unable to find suitable partners or would rather focus on their career ahead of marriage. Many singles had no time to socialise after starting work or did not know how to start. Some participants were also of the view that matchmaking agencies are too profit-oriented and not overly concerned about making matches.
b. For those who were in a serious relationship, some considered having a residence of their own as important before they would consider marriage; yet others said that it should not be a factor.
For couples, financial security, time and childcare arrangements were three key considerations. In particular, parenthood was increasingly viewed as a shared responsibility between the couple as women wanted to have children and work at the same time. Key factors cited as challenges to having and raising children were as follows:
i. Financial concerns: The costs of bringing up a family in Singapore were high, especially when tertiary education for children was taken into consideration at the point of deciding whether or not to have (more) children. There were suggestions for fathers to be allowed to claim tax benefits currently meant only for working mothers, especially if the couple includes a stay-at-home mother.
ii. Lack of work-life balance: There seemed to be social stigma in leaving the office on time, much less taking time off for family. Some women said they were afraid of losing their jobs or that their positions would not be kept for them if they took longer leave to care for their children. Women generally wanted a career and children at the same time but it was a challenge trying to manage and balance both. Some participants noted that other seemingly non-related policies could have an effect on work-life balance, e.g. timing of ERP charges could discourage people from going home early.
iii. Lack of quality and affordable infant-care and childcare facilities: Many couples did not want their children to be raised by domestic workers. However, there seemed to be a lack of mid-range infant-care and childcare centres that were affordable and of good quality.
There were three running themes across socialisation and marriage, and having and raising children that could affect Singaporeans from trying to fulfil their personal M&P goals:
a. Financial support: While financial support in itself was insufficient to encourage participants to have another child, it was deemed necessary to provide support to some extent given rising costs. Work-life balance: Demanding work commitments could hamper social and family life for both singles and parents. Overall pro-family environment: The Government, the employers and the community all had a role to play in fostering an overall pro-family environment. The Government could help by providing targeted support coupled with suitable and consistent messaging; the employers needed to be more supportive; and the community should have the right infrastructure in terms of facilitating socialisation opportunities and the provision of quality and affordable childcare, and the right heartware in terms of a more profamily mindset.
- b. Work-life balance: Demanding work commitments could hamper social and family life for both singles and parents.
- c. Overall pro-family environment: The Government, the employers and the community all had a role to play in fostering an overall pro-family environment. The Government could help by providing targeted support coupled with suitable and consistent messaging; the employers needed to be more supportive; and the community should have the right infrastructure in terms of facilitating socialisation opportunities and the provision of quality and affordable childcare, and the right heartware in terms of a more profamily mindset.
The key findings of the public consultation sessions will help the Government to see if and how it can support couples in getting married and having children. The Government recognises that getting married and having children is ultimately a personal decision; it can only facilitate and support that desire and help turn it into a reality.
Attached are the following annexes for reference:
- Annex A: Statistics on Marriage and Parenthood
- Annex B: Slides in the Dialogue Session
- Annex C: MCYS’s media release – Marriage and Parenthood Study 2007
For media enquiries, please contact: Adeline Kwok Assistant Director, Corporate Communications National Population Secretariat Tel: 63253250 Fax: 63253200 Mobile: 98713652 Email: email@example.com
STATISTICS ON MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD
|Total fertility rate||
2.1 in 1976
1.61 in 1997
1.26 in 2004 & 2005
1.28 in 2006
|1.29 in 2007|
|Number of babies||
45,356 in 1997
35,135 in 2004
35,528 in 2005
36,272 in 2006
|37,074 in 2007|
Trends in Marriage and Parenthood
|Singlehood: Age 30-34||Male: 30.9% Female: 19.9%||Male: 34.7% Female: 22.2%|
|Singlehood: Age 35-39||Male: 18.9% Female: 14.5%||Male: 19.0%</br> Female: 15.5%|
|Median age at first marriage||Male: 28.3 years Female: 25.7 years||Male: 29.7 years Female: 27.2 years|
|Median age of females at first birth||28.3 years||29.5 years|
|Average number of children born to evermarried females aged 40-49||2.8 in 1990 2.2 in 1997||2.1|
MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD STUDY 2007
The Marriage and Parenthood (M&P) Study 2007 is a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) which seeks to understand the attitudes and perceptions of Singapore residents towards marriage and parenthood.
A similar study was completed in 2004. This second M&P Study was completed in 2007, surveying a total of 3,015 single (never married) and 3,006 married residents of Singapore. The key findings across both studies are compared below.
Marriage remains desirable
The 2007 survey found that the percentage of single respondents who desire to marry had increased from 74% in the 2004 survey to 85% in the 2007 survey. The top 2 reasons cited for not marrying continue to be not having met a suitable partner (compatible and of good character); and choosing to concentrate on their studies or career. Single respondents appear to be more active in searching for a marriage partner now as the percentage of those who were ambivalent about marriage decreased from 21% in 2004 to 13% in 2007. (Please refer to Annex A, Diagram 1 and Table 1)
Home ownership closely associated with marriage
Most of those single respondents (89%) in the 2007 survey who planned to marry their current partners preferred to live together in their own homes after marriage. Almost a third of them indicated that they would postpone their wedding if they were unable to have a place of their own. (Please refer to Annex A, Diagrams 2 and 3)
More intend to have 2 or 3 children
Most married respondents from the 2004 and 2007 surveys cited starting a family as either the most important or the second most important reason for getting married. (Please refer to Annex A, Diagram 4)
In terms of the intended number of children, almost 8 in 10 of married respondents in the 2007 survey wanted 2 or 3 children. This was an increase from the 2004 survey, where slightly more than 6 in 10 wanted the same number of children. There was little difference in the number of children that married males and females wanted; the majority of both genders intending to have 2 or 3 children also increased across both surveys.
The average number of children that all married respondents actually had at the point of survey was fewer than 2 children in 2004 (1.5 children) and 2007 (1.6 children). When asked if they had completed their family size, almost 4 in 10 married respondents from the 2007 survey said that they wanted at least one more child and most of them were confident of achieving this intention. Across both the 2004 and 2007 surveys, overall family size stabilised at around 2 children for couples towards the end of their reproductive cycles (i.e. those aged 40 to 44 years old). (Please refer to Annex A, Tables 2, 3 and 4 and Diagrams 5 and 6)
Parenthood viewed as a shared responsibility
While financial security came in first on the respondents’ minds when considering the number of children they would have, the second most common factor cited as influencing their decision was spousal consensus. Parenthood was viewed as a shared responsibility between the couple. This was consistent for both the 2004 and 2007 surveys. (Please refer to Annex A, Table 5)
Women want both family and work at the same time
Over 80% of single and 60% of married female respondents indicated a preference to be a working mother, i.e., to have a job and one or more children concurrently. This was consistent with the 2004 survey. However, the percentage of married women who had indicated in the 2007 survey that it was ideal to leave the workforce when they had children or when their children were still young increased by 5 percentage points (from 29% to 34%). This was likely due to the preference to take care of their young children themselves. (Please refer to Annex A, Table 6 and Diagram 7)
Parents want reliable, affordable, accessible and quality child care
In terms of child care arrangements, majority (70%) of parents had highlighted that “trust” in the caregiver was the most important factor influencing their decision on their current child care arrangement. Apart from finding the caregiver reliable, affordability was the next most important factor on parents’ minds. The other factors influencing parents’ choice of child care arrangements included whether the caregiver was able to care for and develop the child and proximity of the caregiver to their homes. (Please refer to Annex A, Diagram 8)
Impact of marriage and parenthood measures
In 2004, the Government enhanced existing pro-family measures and introduced new initiatives to create a more conducive environment for couples to start and raise a family. (Please refer to Annex B for more details on the 2004 marriage and parenthood package)
The 2007 survey found that 83% of respondents agreed that the current marriage and parenthood package had created a more family-friendly environment conducive for having and raising children. More than 7 in 10 respondents also found current measures easy to understand. Amongst the current measures, the Baby Bonus and extended Paid Maternity Leave schemes were the two most influential policies that would persuade respondents to have more children and to have them earlier. (Please refer to Annex A, Tables 7 and 8)
Issued by: MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, YOUTH AND SPORTS Date: 05 May 2008
For media enquiries, please contact: Yvonne Lum Assistant Manager DID : 6354 8174 HP : 9090 3051 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Communications and International Relations Division Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports
DETAILED BREAKDOWN OF FINDINGS FROM
THE MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD STUDIES 2004 AND 2007
Marriage remains desirable (Source: Marriage and Parenthood Studies 2004 and 2007)
|Most Important Factor For Not Marrying(Top five reasons)||2004(Rank)||2007(Rank)|
|I have not met a suitable partner* yet||1||1|
|I still want to concentrate on my job/studies||2||2|
|I do not want to lose my freedom and comfort||3||3|
|I am too young to marry||5||4|
|I do not have enough money||4||5|
*“suitable partner” refers to compatibility and of good character
Home ownership closely associated with marriage (Source: Marriage and Parenthood Study 2007)
|No. of Children||Total married respondents|
|Intended (total)*||Actual(total)||Intended(Total)||Actual (total)|
|4 or more||5%||4%||7%||4%|
|No. of Children Born (Actual)||Total married respondents(%)|
|Below 30||30-34||35-39||40-44||Below 30||30-34||35-39||40-44|
|4 or more||1%||2%||4%||6%||1%||2%||4%||8%|
|No. of Children||Total married respondents(%)|
|Intended(Male)*||Intended (Female)*||Actual (Male)||Actual (Female)||Intended(Male)*||Intended (Female)*||Actual (Male)||Actual (Female)|
|4 or more||4%||5%||3%||3%||6%||7%||3%||5%|
* A small percentage of non-responses had been excluded from these columns. ** Figures in Tables 2, 3 and 4 have been rounded up.
Diagram 5 (For Married Respondents)
Parenthood viewed as a shared responsibility (Source: Marriage and Parenthood Studies 2004 and 2007)
|Most Important Factor For Not Marrying(Top five reasons)||2004(Rank)||2007(Rank)|
|Own / Spouse's Age||3||3|
Women want both family and work at the same time (Source: Marriage and Parenthood Studies 2004 and 2007)
|Single (2004)||Single (2007)||Married (2004)||Married (2007)|
|A full time job and no children||7||4||8||3|
|A full time job and one or more children||60||61||41||43|
|A part time job and no children||3||0+||2||3|
|A part time job and one or more children||19||20||21||19|
|No job as long as the children are young||9||13||17||18|
|No job at all when there are children||3||2||12||16|
*Figures have been rounded up.
Diagram 7 (For Married Women)
Parents want reliable, affordable, accessible and quality child care (Source: Marriage and Parenthood Study 2007)
Impact of marriage and parenthood measures (Source: Marriage and Parenthood Study 2007)
|Has the current package created a friendlier environment for having and raising children in Singapore?||83||17||83||17|
|On the whole, do you feel that the current package is user-friendly?||76||24||72||28|
|Scheme(Top 3)||Single(%)||Married with No Children(%)||Married withChildren(%)|
|Will Influence to have (more) children||Will Influence to have children earlier||Will Influence to have (more) children||Will Influence to have children earlier||Will Influence to have (more) children||Will Influence to have children earlier|
|Paid Maternity Leave||71||60||65||65||42||41|
|Parenthood Tax Rebate||24||19||41||39||29||27|
2004 MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD PACKAGE
(i) Promoting Marriage
CPF Housing Top-Up Grant (or Top-Up Grant): The CPF Housing Top-Up Grant Scheme gives a housing subsidy to Singles Grant recipients (i.e. those who have taken a CPF housing grant for singles previously in their purchase of a resale flat) who subsequently marry. They can apply for the Top-Up Grant for their existing flat or when they buy another resale flat, if they meet the eligibility criteria. The amount of Top-Up Grant is based on the difference between the prevailing Family Grant ($30,000 or $40,000) and the Singles Grant received earlier.
ii) Making Child Birth More Affordable
Use of Medisave for 4th and Higher Order Births and Pre-Delivery Expenses. Singaporeans can use their Medisave to pay for pre-delivery medical expenses (e.g. ultrasound scans) in addition to delivery expenses, for all their children. These measures apply to parents of babies born on or after 1 August 2004.
Use of Medisave for Assisted Conception Procedures. Couples who face difficulty conceiving have been able to use more from their Medisave accounts to pay for Assisted Conception Procedures (ACP), such as In-Vitro Fertilisations, Intra-Uterine Inseminations and Gamete Intra- Fallopian tube Transfers. Couples who start their ACP treatment cycles on or after 1 August 2004 are able to use up to $6,000, $5,000 and $4,000 from Medisave for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd ACP treatment cycle respectively. This is an increase from the previous limit of $4,000 per treatment cycle, up to a maximum of 3 cycles.
(iii) Providing Financial Support for Raising Children
The Baby Bonus Scheme. The Baby Bonus Scheme supports parents’ decision to have more children by helping to lighten the financial costs of raising children. It was first introduced in April 2001 for the second and third child, and further enhanced in 2004, with benefits extended to the first and fourth child born on or after 1 August 2004. Parents of eligible Singapore Citizen babies enjoy a Baby Bonus of $3,000 cash for their first child, up to $9,000 in cash and matching contributions for their second child, and up to $18,000 in cash and matching contributions each for their third and fourth children. The cash and co-savings disbursement are summarised in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Overview of Cash and Co-savings Disbursement
|1st Child||2nd Child||3rd Child||4th Child|
|Co-Savings Component (CDA)||N.A.||Up to $6,000||Up to $12,000||Up to $12,000|
|Total Government Contribution||$3,000||Up to $9,000||Up to $18,000||Up to $18,000|
For couples who wish to use Medisave for their fifth or subsequent child; they should have at least a combined total of $15,000 in their Medisave accounts.
The cash gift is disbursed over 2 years from the child’s birth and the matching contributions are made into a special savings account called the Children Development Account (CDA). Parents may use the funds in their child’s CDA to pay for fees at Approved Institutions (AIs) for any of their children. Currently, these AIs include MCYS-licensed childcare centres, MOE-registered kindergartens and special education schools, NCSS-registered early intervention centres and healthcare institutions licensed under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics (PHMC) Act. CDA funds may also be used to purchase MediShield or Medisave-approved private integrated plans.
Parenthood Tax Rebate and Working Mother’s Child Relief. Parents of Singaporean children also benefit from enhanced income tax benefits. The Parenthood Tax Rebate – without age requirements or qualifying claim periods - will provide tax rebates of $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the birth order of the child ($10,000 for 2nd child; $20,000 for 3rd and 4th child). The Working Mother’s Child Relief - without qualifying educational criteria - will provide working mothers a tax relief of 5% to 25% of their earned income for each child, depending on the number of children they have (5%, 15%, 20% and 25% for 1st to 4th child respectively). These tax measures apply to parents of Singapore Citizen babies born on or after 1 January 2004 (for Year of Assessment 2005).
(iv) Enhancing Child Care Options
Longer Maternity Leave. Working mothers of Singapore Citizen babies now have a total of 12 weeks paid Maternity Leave. The additional 4 weeks’ leave (after the first 8 weeks of en bloc leave) may be taken any time within 6 months from birth. Employers will continue to pay for 8 weeks of maternity leave taken for the first and second child, while the Government will pay for the additional 4 weeks for the first and second child, and the entire 12 weeks for the third and fourth child, subject to a cap of $10,000 per 4 weeks. The extension in maternity leave was legislated on 1 October 2004. For mothers of Singaporean babies born during the period 1 August 2004 to 30 September 2004, the Government has paid the extended maternity leave if it was given by their employers, subject to a cap of $10,000 per 4 weeks.
Childcare Leave. An employee covered under the Employment Act is entitled to 2 days of childcare leave per year if the child (including legally adopted children or stepchildren) is below seven years of age; and the employee has worked for the employer for at least three months. Childcare leave for each parent is capped at 2 days per year.
Infant Care Subsidy. Parents of Singapore Citizen infants, aged 2 to 18 months and attending licensed infant or child care centres, receive an infant care subsidy of up to $400 per month, from 1 August 2004.
Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession. Families employing foreign domestic workers enjoy a Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession of $95 if they have a Singapore Citizen child aged below 12 years staying in the same household. The concession is also available to families which have a Singaporean parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandparent-in-law aged 65 years and above staying in the same household, or if the employer or spouse is a Singaporean aged 65 years and above. This concession has taken effect from 1 August 2004.
Grandparent Caregiver Tax Relief. Working mothers whose child is being cared for by his or her grandparents get a Grandparent Caregiver tax relief of $3,000. This applies to working mothers of Singapore Citizen children aged 12 years and below as at 1 January 2004 (Year of Assessment 2005).
(v) Encouraging Better Work-Life Balance
WoW! (Work-life Works!) Fund. Many Singaporeans have said that their decisions to have another child depend heavily on whether they can have a healthy balance between work and family life. To help create a workplace environment that helps Singaporeans harmonise family and work commitments, the Government has introduced a $10 million WoW! Fund. The first $10 million was fully committed by April 2007 and the Government has decided to top-up the Fund with another $10 million. This fund provides financial support to companies to develop and implement work practices that facilitate work-life harmony, such as flexible work arrangements for staff.