updated 3 Sep 2013, 06:51
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Fri, Jan 04, 2013
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Baby Bonus, maternity leave still best incentives?
by Andrea Ong

For years, maternity leave and baby bonus have been critical weapons in Singapore’s battle for babies.

And for years, the country’s total fertility appeared stubbornly immune to either longer maternity leave or more baby bonus.

Yet, in the latest Marriage and Parenthood study found that these are exactly the things that prospective parents say will get them to have children.

“Paid maternity leave for 16 weeks” emerge as the top ranked measure when married respondents were asked about what would influence them to have children or to have more children. Baby Bonus was ranked second.

The other options offered were Government co-savings, use of Medisave to defray delivery costs and a Parenthood Tax rebate.

But if these measures are what parents say they want and also what the government has been prepared to give, why don’t the numbers bear this out?

Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser from the National University of Singapore said that while bearing and rearing a child involves substantial time and money, “what is more important is that couples must desire having someone...(on) whom to shower their love, and in turn to receive the child’s love”.

At the same time, parents who want kids are now more “child-centric” and want the very best for them, he said. “If they perceive that they do not have sufficient time and money, they are less inclined to have more children.”

Prof Tan said this is suggested by another finding in the survey that while married respondents hoped to have a mean of 2.2 children, the mean number they actually have is only 1.5.

Read also:
» Desire to marry and start families still strong

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