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Care expectations, mismatched: state and family in contemporary Singapore
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy (2012)
  • Shirley Hsiao-Li Sun, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The purpose of this paper is to investigate in the context of the persistent low fertility that contributes to an ageing society, what might be the shifting roles of state and family in caring for children? This paper aims to address this research question by drawing on the conceptual framework of “social care” (Daly and Lewis), and on data collected through a qualitative study concerning the state’s population policies aimed at encouraging childbearing among citizens in Singapore. Three themes from the interview data relate to the various dimensions of care: first, in terms of care-as-responsibility, interviewees consider childbearing a long-term commitment. In this context, they perceive the current Baby Bonus scheme only as a short-term benefit, having limited effects. Second, regarding care-as-costs, interviewees pointed out that some important social services are not universally affordable. In particular, they expressed a need for more state funding to put education and healthcare within the reach of the general public. Third, in terms of care-as-labour, care-giving for young children by family members continues to be seen as ideal. However, there is a gap between such an ideal and the reality. These findings suggest a greater financial and regulatory role for the state in childcare provision is increasingly vital. As it stands, there is a mismatch of people’s expectations and available policy initiatives, and this mismatch possibly undermines the success of the government’s policy of encouraging childbearing. This research complements existing studies based on content analysis of policy or statistical analysis of survey data.

  • Low fertility,
  • Social policy,
  • Care,
  • Singapore,
  • Welfare,
  • State,
  • Family
Publication Date
Fall October, 2012
Citation Information
Sun, Shirley Hsiao-Li. 2012. "Care expectations, mismatched: state and family in contemporary Singapore" International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 32(11): 650-663.