Foreigners are providing a boost to Singapore’s lagging birth rate, with one in four babies born to expatriate fathers in the last five months, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The Singapore government has for years been trying to boost the city-state’s birth rate — one of the lowest in the world — by encouraging educated young people in particular to have children and providing incentives ranging from tax breaks to “baby bonuses” to couples with kids.
A total of 16,232 babies were born in Singapore between January and May, with about 25 percent having foreign fathers and about 36 percent with foreign mothers, The Straits Times said quoting statistics from the immigration authority.
Figures for babies whose parents are both foreigners were not immediately available.
Babies born to Malaysian parents topped the list, followed by babies born to parents from the Indian subcontinent.
The Singapore government actively courts foreigners to live and work in the city in a bid to increase and diversify its workforce. The land scarce Southeast Asian city has a population size of 4.6 million and hopes to increase that figure to 6.5 million in the coming decades.
Foreigners producing badly needed babies in Singapore
Foreigners are playing a significant role in producing babies amid Singapore’s drive to boost its population, official data said on Wednesday.
A total of 16,232 babies were born in the first five months of this year, an increase of 849 over the corresponding period last year.
Non-Singaporean fathers accounted for 25 per cent, or slightly more than 4,000, according to figures published in The Straits Times from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s Registry of Births and Deaths.
Non-Singaporeaan mothers accounted for 36 per cent.
Malaysians topped the list. They were the fathers in 1,184 births and the mothers in 1,715 births.
Among the foreign dads, those from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka formed the second-largest group with 668 births, the report said. Mothers contributed 557.
Chinese dads were third, with 365 births. Moms from China were the second-most productive, giving birth to 1,053 newborns.
Fathers from seven countries belonging to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – excluding Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia – formed the third largest group with 800 births. Mothers accounted for 297.
The city-state needs 50,000 newborns annually to replace the population of 4.6 million people, but has long fallen far short.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled a 300-million-Singapore-dollar (224-million-US-dollar) baby-boosting package to encourage parenthood with longer paid maternity leaves and tax rebates.
Part of the policy is attracting immigrants. Foreigners currently number 1 million.
Fathers from Britain accounted for 213 births, those from Australia 162, American dads produced 109 offspring and Japanese 94.