Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fairer policies and greater gender equity will boost S'pore's birth rate, says professor

Fathers, please step up
Fairer policies and greater gender equity will boost S'pore's birth rate, says professor
By Tan Hui Yee, Correspondent
Professor Rosling says Singapore has not seen a reversal
in the decline of fertility rates, unlike other high-income
nations like Australia, because it lags behind in gender
equality. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
SINGAPORE fathers are the real losers when they abdicate child-rearing responsibilities to mothers. And the state, too, becomes much poorer for it, says noted Swedish international health professor and public statistics advocate Hans Rosling.
Singapore, he notes, vexes over its baby shortage because the situation threatens its economic survival. But it should be more concerned that its falling total fertility rate (TFR) shows poor gender equity, which is an indicator of social progress.
The 62-year-old academic from Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet, which awards the Nobel Prize for medicine, was in town recently to speak at the UBS Philanthropy Forum.
'A fertility rate of 1.23 children per woman indicates that life is not that optimal for young women in Singapore. You can gather from that that Singapore women have to make a choice, either to have children or to have an active professional career,' he says.
Their inordinate sacrifice stems from the fact that would-be fathers here are not rising to the task of child-rearing, and state support for equal parenting roles is not adequate. In response, women are saying 'no' to babies.
Singapore, he notes, is a close cousin to Sweden in income and infant mortality rate. Yet both countries are moving in opposite directions when it comes to fertility rates, with the Swedish figure climbing to a 16-year high of 1.94 children per woman last year, while Singapore's dipped to a nadir of 1.23.
Read the full interview inThe Straits Times today.

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