Since 1987, the Singapore government has adopted a variety of incentives aimed at bringing the nation’s population growth back to the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. The Baby Bonus scheme, with a cash component, was introduced in 2000 and extended in 2004 and 2008. The total fertility rate, however, has persistently declined, reaching a low of 1.22 babies per resident female in 2009. Recurrent themes in the data include the following: First, the rising cost of living and childrearing in Singapore is the predominant lens through which people consider whether policies encourage them to have more children. Second, there seems to be a lack of knowledge about the government’s financial incentives, particularly among less-educated respondents. Third, interviewees point to a bias in key internal elements of the policy: the poor cannot contribute as much as the rich, so requirements for Children Development Account matching funds (in contrast to a universal child and family allowance) increases the capacity of higher-income households to have children. This paper concludes that decision makers’ framing, knowledge, and perceived bias in existing forms of pronatalist incentives are important elements mediating macro-level policy provisions and micro-level individual decision-making.
- Pronatalist population policies,
- low fertility,