Singapore Population Policies

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SOCI110033.01 – China Population and Development

Singapore Population Policies – Transition from Anti-Natalist to Pro-Natalist

Jerry Sim Jing Hui 沈靖惠 Student ID: 09340696062 jerry.sim.jh@gmail.com 1   

Abstract This paper follows the transition of population and fertility policies in Singapore from its independence in 1965 until present. In line with the population situation in the country, the government has spared no effort in trying to influence the population size and growth pattern. These policies are varied in nature and have differing level of effectiveness. In this paper, we will be looking into the socioeconomic situations at the given periods of time and understand in context the nature of the policies chosen by the government.

5 Key Words 1. Population Policies 2. Baby Bonus 3. Fertility 4. Population Growth 5. TFR

Introduction Population growth is an issue facing many countries around the world today. As the world’s population increases, there is a myriad of different challenges faced by governments such as socio-economic, health, education, housing and transport factors. In Asia where the total population size is on a rise, the growth distribution is very much uneven. Developing countries such as China, India and Vietnam are seeing higher fertility rates, but at the same time higher infant mortality and shorter life expectancy. On the other hand, major cities and developed countries such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong are faced with problems of aging population and fertility rates lower than replacement rate level. As a small nation with almost no natural resources, Singapore has turned to human capital as our main resource to ensure the growth and prosperity of the nation. Since its independence in 1965, the Singapore government has played a very active role in implementing various population policies in attempt to control the population size. These policies – some of which are controversial in nature – have had varied effects on the population growth patterns and trends in this period. The policies can be broadly categorized into three phases: the anti-natalist phase in the 1960s and 1970s, the brief eugenics – or selectively natalist – phase in the mid-1980s and 2   

the pro-natalist phase which spanned from the late 1980s till today. These policies differ in their objectives, applications and rationale in accordance with the context of the time of implementation. This paper aims to describe and analyze the changing nature of these policies and their overall effectiveness in bringing about the desired population outcome.

Background of Singapore’s Population Before delving deeper into the population policies, it would be useful to first understand the nature of the population in Singapore. Founded in 1819 by the British, Singapore had its humble beginnings as a fishing village at the southern tip of the Malay Archipelago. When Sir Stamford Raffles first set foot in Singapore, there was an estimated population of about 150 natives (Wong & Yeoh, 2003). Singapore quickly grew to become an important trading hub in the East for the British. When its doors first opened, immigrants mainly from South China, India and Malaya – as well as other parts of South East Asia – entered Singapore for work opportunities. Many of them subsequently settled in Singapore and brought their families over. To date, these three races make up the majority populations. As of 2011, Chinese make up 74% of the total population, Malays 13%, Indians 9.2% and the remaining 3.8% classified as “others”. As the immigration rate grew, so too did the overall population size. The increasing trend continued up till the World War II which saw Singapore fall under the Japanese occupation. The post-war population boom followed after. As seen from Figure 1.0, Singapore saw a close to doubling in population size in each of the stated periods from 1947-1970. Specifically, there was a 84.7% increase from 1947-1957 and 90.8%...
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