Singapore offers ‘pandemic baby bonus,’ pushing for more children despite economic downturn

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Singapore, which has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, announced Monday a one-time “pandemic baby bonus” to encourage couples to conceive children despite the coronavirus-induced economic downturn seen across the globe.

“We have received feedback that COVID-19 has caused some aspiring parents to postpone their parenthood plans,” Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in parliament on Monday. “To help with expenses during this period, we will introduce a one-off additional support for newborns.”

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He did not elaborate further, according to the BBC, but the payment will come on top of the $7,330 incentive couples in Singapore already receive from the government for expanding their families.

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Government data indicated Singapore’s fertility rate dropped to an eight-year record low in 2018 at 1.14 births per woman and remained unchanged in 2019. Now, Singapore residents facing mounting job insecurity during a pandemic-induced recession are even more reluctant to have children amid the worst economic crisis the country has faced in years, UK’s The Telegraph reported.

China, which has eased its previous one-child policy, recorded its lowest birth rate in 70 years.

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Meanwhile, other south Asian countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, are experiencing the opposite problem and may face massive spikes in pregnancies during coronavirus lockdowns. The United Nations Population Fund estimated unintended pregnancies in the Philippines will increase by nearly half to 2.6 million if restrictions on movement remain in place until the end of the year.



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