Thursday, 31 January 2013

Singapore's Need for Population Growth (or How To Make More Babies Faster)

I am going to make a suggested solution to Singapore's need for population growth that could not be met by its citizen's birth rate. My suggestion is inspired from a good post on this population issue, found in the blog Yawning Bread

Before I make my suggestion, here is an extract from the long and good analysis in the blog Yawning Bread to give part of the context (for a fuller context, please read the original full post at Yawning Bread):
The point here is that we have to do something — and drastic — about TFR [Total Fertility Rate].
Starting NOW, we have to insist that every adult citizen (male and female) reaching age 30, raise 1.5 children before age 40. Marriage should not be a pre-condition. Married or single, everybody has to raise 1.5 children. We may have to re-shape our taxation policies to ensure that taxes are so heavy that it becomes plain that the only way to neutralise the penalty is to have children and claw back the tax and subsidy incentives related to child-rearing. Make it obvious that it is better to raise children and take the incentives than to do without kids and pay the penalties.
Of course, it is easier said than done. It means a massive reshaping of values and economic expectations.
It’s time we recognise that to expect a two-parent household to raise 3 children, one parent shouldn’t be expected to work in the formal sector for about ten years. That means the family has to be able to live on only one income for ten years.
A one-parent household, expected to raise 1.5 children, has to be allowed to opt out of the workforce for about five to six years.
Either we chop down the cost of living to allow this to happen or the state therefore has to come in with a replacement income stream to keep all these families afloat. Alas, I do not see the government willing to confront this reality.
Quite the opposite: Page 38 of the White Paper still speaks of “helping more Singaporeans join the workforce”. No, that’s the opposite of what should be done.
If we do what is needed — i.e. at any given time, a number of people leave the workforce temporarily to raise children — then our citizen workforce between now and 2030 will fall even more than the 100,000 to 200,000 mentioned at the start of the essay. A “child-raising sabbatical” of ten years per couple, equivalent to five years per person, is approximately 15% of one’s working life. This means a further reduction of about 150,000 in the citizen workforce.
It will have a huge effect on our economy. Whereas I spoke above of settling for 1% GDP growth over the next half-generation, if we want also to fix the TFR, it really means negative GDP growth.
But if for our long-term good, we make rectifying the TFR the top priority, then we have little choice. We must (a) pull people out from the formal workforce to do child rearing, and (b) completely restructure or taxes and incentives. If we, at the same time, cannot stomach more immigration to make up the shortfall in the workforce that results, then Singaporeans should be told that we have to pay the price of economic shrinkage for say 10 – 15 years while we re-adjust the moorings and foundations of our economy and society.
The author of Yawning Bread has basically said that a drastic measure to improve the TFR has to be taken as soon as possible. He suggested to use both positive and negative incentives to make virtually every Singapore citizen between the age of 30 and 40 to want to raise 1.5 children, regardless whether or not they are married. And Singapore must be prepared to sacrifice positive GDP growth for years (e.g. letting people take some years away from work to care for their children, which would reduce the workforce, and which can in turn ultimately lead to negative GDP growth).

My suggestion is to take it seemingly even further, more drastic or more radical (depending on what perspective/background you are coming from). My suggestion is to build mass production factories. Not the production factories of products and components, but mass production factories of... babies!!! Yes babies. Please read on before you throw mental stones at me. You may find that it is actually nothing radical or drastic if you read on. In fact Singapore has already a number of such production factories. I am referring to orphanages. (Sorry I was expressing it in a dramatic way). What Singapore can consider is to have more institutionalised orphanages and systematically bring in many orphans from other  countries which have insufficient resources to take care of their orphans, especially when some of these countries are struggling with both poverty and overpopulation. This would thus be a win-win solution for both these struggling countries and Singapore. 

We can bring in such orphaned babies and then raise them up as Singapore citizens. Some of these babies can be adopted by interested Singaporeans who meet the necessary adoption criteria, whether or not they are married. From what I have heard from academics, researches showed that children raised by unmarried persons generally do not fair worse than those from heterosexually married families. Those babies not adopted would be raised in the orphanages. 

One side-advantage is that over a longer term, these children  these children coming from different geographical locations would give us mixed gene pool which may give us better minds (whether or not they would be of better characters would, to a large extent, depend on how we nurture them). 

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