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Old 2010-12-27, 21:17   Link #1661
Knightrunner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
As a single fellow, I personally don't see myself having a family of my own. Yes, it's to avoid the sandwich, but also due to the nature of my work, I am not averse to having foreigners in my land. In Singapore, almost everyone's ancestor was once a foreigner.

I don't mind doing household chores, but to a mom who had spent her youth as a maid in households, your standards are never there, and you get an earful for your troubles.
Could somebody explain more in what is happening in Singapore? I feel like I'm missing something when I'm reading the post.
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Old 2010-12-27, 21:23   Link #1662
yezhanquan
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Ok, let me see if I can get this right.

Singaporeans are generally averse to foreigners nowadays, due to the fact that there are now a lot more of them. (Exact statistics fail me, so bear with me in that department.) The menial workers cause apprehension among locals, who don't understand their way of life. (Many such workers are from India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia) The birth rate is also very low. Our government's relatively liberal policy on accepting foreigners will not be reversed, as acknowledged by our Prime Minister.

The influx of foreigners (the highly-educated, well-paid ones) have been cited as one of the reasons for our high property prices.
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Old 2010-12-27, 21:26   Link #1663
Knightrunner
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So more foreigners means lower birth rates. Is there a reason why?
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Old 2010-12-27, 21:29   Link #1664
yezhanquan
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On that front, there are other reasons. High pressure during work and lack of child-care facilities are some factors. Family-friendly employers are hard to come by and the parents have to take into account taking care of their own parents (baby-boomers). Of course, there are some who cite "God will take care of us" and have many children. But, make no mistake, behind those decisions are some very hard-nosed calculations and planning.
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Old 2010-12-27, 22:06   Link #1665
ZephyrLeanne
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Looks like Baby Bonus isn't working. And will not.
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Old 2010-12-27, 22:28   Link #1666
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
Singaporeans are generally averse to foreigners nowadays, due to the fact that there are now a lot more of them. (Exact statistics fail me, so bear with me in that department.) The menial workers cause apprehension among locals, who don't understand their way of life. (Many such workers are from India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia) The birth rate is also very low. Our government's relatively liberal policy on accepting foreigners will not be reversed, as acknowledged by our Prime Minister.

The influx of foreigners (the highly-educated, well-paid ones) have been cited as one of the reasons for our high property prices.
While it's true that foreigners add stress to Singapore's social system, you've got it wrong when correlating them with Singapore's falling birth rate. They are not the direct factor. They have an indirect impact, at most, in the form of rising home prices (and even then, only in the private-property market; non-citizens are barred from buying the government-built homes that house most Singaporeans and permanent residents).

In Singapore's case, the direct trigger for declining birth rates is the declining rate of marriage among young people:

2000
2009
Resident pop ('000):
3,273.4
3,733.9
+14%
Resident households ('000):
915.1
1,119.6
+22%
Total marriages:
22,561
26,081
+15%
General marriage rate:
Males (per 1,000 unmarried resident males):
48.1
43.6
-9%
Females (per 1,000 unmarried resident females):
49.9
41.1
-18%
Median age at first marriage (years):
Grooms:
28.7
29.8
+4%
Brides:
26.2
27.5
+5%

(Source: Statistics Singapore)



The figures above show that resident population here is growing — in tandem with the rate of growth of households — despite the declining rate of marriages in one segment of the population (overall rate of marriage is still increasing, but in line with overall population growth). That suggests that those who are married are producing a fair number of babies indeed, but not enough to meet the replacement rate (2.1 babies per family) for the entire resident population.

In other words, the sheer number of unmarried people in Singapore is skewing the country's overall fertility figure.

As for why people, like me, are not getting married, well... the reasons vary, ranging from the economical to the social and personal.
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Old 2010-12-27, 22:48   Link #1667
yezhanquan
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Yeah. Actually, I wasn't addressing the population issue with that post. Knightrunner's request for explaining wasn't that clear to me.

Again, true in my case. Currently have no plans to marry.
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Old 2010-12-27, 23:01   Link #1668
ZephyrLeanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
Yeah. Actually, I wasn't addressing the population issue with that post. Knightrunner's request for explaining wasn't that clear to me.

Again, true in my case. Currently have no plans to marry.
So now a spouse bonus is needed?
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Old 2010-12-27, 23:39   Link #1669
TinyRedLeaf
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Based on anecdotes from my married friends who now have children, the "baby bonus" helps, but it's hardly the key contributor towards their decision to have kids.

So, I would say that while a "marriage bonus" sounds titillating, it would hardly be a key factor for marriage either. In any case, I can think of at least one reason why such a bonus should be avoided at all costs: We don't want to turn marriage into a commercial transaction.

As it were, divorces are also on the rise in Singapore (same source I cited above). A "marriage bonus" could encourage people to marry for money, then simply divorce later.

I think most people, including policymakers, are at a loss to explain, let alone solve, the declining rate of marriage among young Singaporeans. The apparent reasons are broadly similar to those in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. But compared to those three places, Singapore society is far less male-chauvinist, an observation that repeatedly crops up among East Asian foreigners I'm acquainted with. When it comes to attitudes towards women, Singapore is definitely more progressive than most other places in East Asia.

In other words, Singapore women are not as likely as women in other parts of East Asia to suffer "career death" upon marriage. Yes, it is an observable problem, but it doesn't seem as acute (to me, at least) as those in other places. It would seem, therefore, that there are other factors at work.

If I were to hazard a guess, and if many young Singaporeans think and feel the way I do, it could well be that most of us simply value our independence over marriage. Marriage, as a social institution, carries far too many expectations here, and many Singaporeans would rather avoid it.

================

To return the topic to Japan, I think the most obvious solution to its economic and demographic woes has been staring in its face for at least the past decade: Japan very simply needs to let in more immigrants.

More people, more competition, hence greater demand for scarce resources, which spurs job creation and leads to rising wages. People would then feel more financially secure, and hence become more amenable to the idea of starting families. And, with more people around, there is greater potential for finding someone you'd like to share your life with, I would think.

The problem, I believe, is that Japanese identity depends far too heavily on exclusivity. There appears to be an unease over the possibility that increased immigration would dilute this sense of identity, hence the social reluctance to open the doors to more immigrants.
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Old 2010-12-27, 23:56   Link #1670
Sumeragi
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One radical idea is..... single/child-less tax.

That's right, you pay a tax for being single or childless. For most Koreans at least, it's the costs with taking care of the children (babysitting, education, etc) that make post reluctent to have kids. I'm sure at least in Korea, a child-less tax on fertile couples might work a bit.
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Old 2010-12-28, 00:05   Link #1671
ZephyrLeanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
One radical idea is..... single/child-less tax.

That's right, you pay a tax for being single or childless. For most Koreans at least, it's the costs with taking care of the children (babysitting, education, etc) that make post reluctent to have kids. I'm sure at least in Korea, a child-less tax on fertile couples might work a bit.
See above on why it won't work.
Same as a marriage bonus, you run the risk of putting a monetary value on family.
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Old 2010-12-28, 00:44   Link #1672
FateAnomaly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
One radical idea is..... single/child-less tax.

That's right, you pay a tax for being single or childless. For most Koreans at least, it's the costs with taking care of the children (babysitting, education, etc) that make post reluctent to have kids. I'm sure at least in Korea, a child-less tax on fertile couples might work a bit.
The party that propose this will lose their position very fast.
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Old 2010-12-28, 00:45   Link #1673
Vexx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
To return the topic to Japan, I think the most obvious solution to its economic and demographic woes has been staring in its face for at least the past decade: Japan very simply needs to let in more immigrants.

...

The problem, I believe, is that Japanese identity depends far too heavily on exclusivity. There appears to be an unease over the possibility that increased immigration would dilute this sense of identity, hence the social reluctance to open the doors to more immigrants.
The other option is too ruthlessly eliminate those "social mores" that are locking them into a "lose-lose" situation - and I seem to recall a study that says even that may not be sufficient at this point in the curve.
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Old 2010-12-28, 01:26   Link #1674
Sumeragi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZephyrLeanne View Post
See above on why it won't work.
Same as a marriage bonus, you run the risk of putting a monetary value on family.
It's because of the monetary costs that many are not having children. In other words people ALREADY put a monetary value on family.


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Originally Posted by FateAnomaly View Post
The party that propose this will lose their position very fast.
Actually, it would gain a lot of support (at least in Korea)
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Old 2010-12-28, 01:31   Link #1675
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
The other option is too ruthlessly eliminate those "social mores" that are locking them into a "lose-lose" situation - and I seem to recall a study that says even that may not be sufficient at this point in the curve.
Sometimes, I wonder if the apparent irreversibility of the curve is such a bad thing. I well understand the immediate economic consequences but, over the very long term (as in 50 or more years into the future), we could see world population return to a sustainable equilibrium, owing to socio-economic forces largely beyond our control.

It's very remarkable to me that a nation with less than half the population of the United States has been able to stay the second-largest economy in the world for so long. Japan may now have slipped to third place, but the fact that it remains within the top three speaks volumes about the tremendous productivity of its (shrinking) workforce.

From that perspective, I'm not sure if the Japanese would be able to remove those obstructive "social mores" on their own. That last time something so drastic happened in Japan was in the immediate post-World War II years. And, prior to that, during the early years of the Meiji era.

The Japanese, it seems, are willing to commit to massive social changes only when national survival is very acutely at stake. The demographic time bomb, unfortunately, hasn't got to that stage yet.
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Old 2010-12-28, 07:09   Link #1676
ZephyrLeanne
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And unfortunately, China, India, and Russia will pass Japan by before anything changes.
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Old 2010-12-28, 19:10   Link #1677
yezhanquan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
It's because of the monetary costs that many are not having children. In other words people ALREADY put a monetary value on family.

Actually, it would gain a lot of support (at least in Korea)
From the way I see, people will think a wee bit harder. Raising a family is not just about money. It's an emotional investment as well. Unless you set the singles tax so darn high, I think I'll gladly pay for it.

Also, how about singles who chose to be single because they have to take care of their relatives and have no time to start their own family? There are more of them around than you think.

How about mariages of convinence? "Hey, let's marry and live together to escape the tax, but we live separate lives?"
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Old 2010-12-29, 00:04   Link #1678
Sumeragi
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Originally Posted by ZephyrLeanne View Post
And unfortunately, China, India, and Russia will pass Japan by before anything changes.
Russia is in even a worse demographic situation. Also, China is fast becoming another Japan, with the One-Child Policy's backlash rising.


Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
From the way I see, people will think a wee bit harder. Raising a family is not just about money. It's an emotional investment as well. Unless you set the singles tax so darn high, I think I'll gladly pay for it.
More than 60% of married, childless couples in Korea don't have kids because of the economic costs. They say they would gladly start giving birth if those are overcome. The taxes would go pay for child support.

But then, the idea wouldn't work in Japan, most likely.


Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
Also, how about singles who chose to be single because they have to take care of their relatives and have no time to start their own family? There are more of them around than you think.
They would be registered as the family of the relatives. That isn't hard, giving the nice system in Japan and Korea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
How about mariages of convinence? "Hey, let's marry and live together to escape the tax, but we live separate lives?"
Exactly the targets.
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Old 2010-12-29, 08:35   Link #1679
ChainLegacy
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It's interesting how the Japanese have historically been very open to foreign cultural and scientific ideas but never to the actual foreigners that had the ideas. Perhaps it is connected to the whole issue; copy and perfect outside things that work rather than absorb the actual outside elements.
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Old 2010-12-29, 08:42   Link #1680
JMvS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
From the way I see, people will think a wee bit harder. Raising a family is not just about money. It's an emotional investment as well. Unless you set the singles tax so darn high, I think I'll gladly pay for it.

Also, how about singles who chose to be single because they have to take care of their relatives and have no time to start their own family? There are more of them around than you think.

How about mariages of convinence? "Hey, let's marry and live together to escape the tax, but we live separate lives?"
Well as aforementioned by Sumeragi, the bone of demographic policy makers is that, in most if not all countries, polls have shown that most women/couples having one or two children desired more, but couldn't afford it.

And this is the key issue, as in demographic mechanism, out of egalitarian dreams, it isn't a everybody marries and has two children or more setting that is the backbone of population renewal, but the relatively limited fraction of couples that have three or more children.
For historically, out of frontier economies, there has always been a substantial fraction of singles, child-barren and one-childs.

Policy makers need not pay attention to the unmarried and childless, for it is anyway a lost fight, unlike those who are already prepared to marry and have children, but can't afford as many as they want.
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