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Couples lack finances & mental preparedness for children: survey
SINGAPORE: About one out of two couples say not having enough finances is the main reason for not having children, while about one in three couples cite not being mentally prepared as another reason for putting off having children.
This is according to a survey conducted by voluntary welfare organisation I Love Children on 614 participants.
Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Madam Halimah Yacob, said the biggest challenge the government faces is convincing couples that having children is important.
She made this point at a dialogue session on Friday, attended by about 20 people.
"We can try to give more subsidy support and look at ways of improving the infrastructure (and) environment for our young people," said Madam Halimah. "But at the end of the day, I think it’s also important that they have to recognise these issues."
"What I’m really glad hearing is that, at some point, (couples) realise that priorities are important," she added.
"And all of them feel that putting the family at the centre is very important as a priority. Because it’s not a question of contributing to growth or development. It’s a question of what you want out of your life, what will give you the greatest fulfillment. They recognise that children are important."
At the dialogue "Maybe Baby", young parents also said that flexi—work arrangements are a major incentive as that will enable them to spend more time with their children.
Madam Halimah said the idea of flexi—work arrangements needs to be sold to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
"I think the most critical part is to show that even when people are on flexible work arrangements, it does not affect their productivity (and) efficiency," she said.
"In fact, there have been studies done by the employers federation, for instance, to show that for every dollar spent on flexi—work options, the return is S$1.68."
"We need to have a lot more conversations with our SMEs that (flexi—work) does not affect efficiency (and) it does not affect productivity," she continued. "On the contrary, it may encourage them."
"It may encourage people to come and work for them. As I hear young people, this is the constant refrain: ’We want to have more children, we get married to start a family. We need to have flexibility at work.’"
Madam Halimah also suggested that flexi—work arrangements could be used to attract people to work for SMEs, which are currently facing a labour crunch.
"Perhaps this could be turned into a useful strategy, where if (SMEs) offer such options, they would find it a lot easier to find workers," she said.