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Monday, 17 August 2009

Signapore and the baby decision

Following on from my last blog posting about the declining birthrate, a regular reader of this blog in the Far East send me this link to an interview with the Prime Minister of Signapore, Lee Hsien Loong

The article is quite long and goes into issues not all my readers may be so interested in and so, I've reproduced the section where he disscussing the question of why women aren't having children here:

'You made a statement on the problem with young women not having babies, and you have encouraged them to have children. Can you elaborate on this?

I can explain but I can’t solve. (Laughs.) This is the problem of many developed countries. In Kuala Lumpur you have this same phenomenon except that you are a bigger country; you have the rural area so taking Malaysia as a whole, birth rates are okay.

In developed countries and particularly in the cities, many of the women are working, are professionals, and if you tell them to have one more child, they would say that it’s a heavy burden. Because it’s a heavy responsibility, not just a financial burden, because you want the best for your child; give him or her the best. That’s a very heavy responsibility because having made the baby, you’ve got to make sure he is properly brought up, educated, guided. You can’t just leave him to maids or even to tutors.

And, therefore, responsible women are saying, ‘I’ll just have a few, two, maybe one,’ some don’t even want to start. If everybody decided that, [then] I don’t have enough children. So we are trying to encourage them to have children with not just the financial incentive but also the overall social spirit; the ethos so that people welcome you when you have kids; when you turn pregnant, they fuss over you, they ask if it’s a boy or a girl. At work they will make adjustments, they will give you a room to breast-feed, reasonable time off, and you can still participate while fulfilling your responsibilities as a mother. So these are adjustments that we must make in our society, but it is very difficult to reverse the trend and get more babies born.'

So, an interesting point he is making at the end I thought - that the ethos must change.

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