Pro-natalist and anti-natalist policies: Singapore
Pro-natalist and anti-natalist policies
Pro-natalist policies are policies which are designed with the purpose of increasing the birth rate/fertility rate of an area. They are found in countries with either very slow natural increase or natural decrease and in areas with ageing populations.
Anti-natalist policies aim to do the reverse: to encourage people to plan smaller families, lower fertility rates and reduce the number of births. These tend to be found in countries with high birth rates and rapidly growing populations.
Singapore's recent history has seen the city state use both anti-natalist policies aimed to reduce birth rates and, more recently, pro-natalist policies aimed to increase fertility and increase the number of births and therefore young people in the country.
Examine the population pyramid for Singapore in 1967. Describe the pyramid and identify its main features. What does this tell us about birth rates and young dependency in Singapore at this time?
What problems might Singapore have faced as a result of this population structure?
B. Anti-natalist policies 1972-1987: "Stop at Two" Singapore's government introduced a series of policies to encourage higher fertility in 1972. These included the policies shown below. 3. Study these and briefly explain how each could contribute to lower birth rates. Which do you think were likely to be the most successful and why?
C. Anti-natalist posters 7. Study the posters in the gallery below. What messages do they aim to give to people in Singapore on the merits of having smaller families?
4. Compare the 1967 pyramid with the pyramid for 1984. What changes can you identify in birth and death rates. 5. What are the positive impacts of the anti-natalist policies? 6. What problems might the country have faced if population had continued to change in the same way?
D. Pro-natalist policies 1987 onwards: "Have three or more if you can afford it."
Faced with the success of the anti-natalist policies that were in place between 1972 and 1987, Singapore faced a shrinking population, issues associated with "greying" and worries about future numbers of workers and old age dependency. Previous anti-natalist policies were reversed and from 1986/7 families were being actively encouraged to "have three or more if you can afford it". the policies included those shown below.
Study these and briefly explain how each could contribute to higher birth rates. Which do you think were likely to be the most successful and why? What do you think would have been the opinion/feelings of Singaporean people on the change in policy?
E. Successes and limitations of the policy
1. Study the material below to evaluate the success of Singapore's pro-natalist policies. What do you think has been effective? What advice would you offer to decision-makers seeking to influence fertility rates within a nation?
There was a slight increase in total fertility after the measures were introduced.
The proportion of foreign residents in Singapore has reduced.
Changing people's attitudes to family size is about "hearts and minds". Financial incentives are unlikely to be sufficient.
Increases in fertility levels have been short lived (see graph below).
Some people saw government measures as "controlling"
Measures not always supported by businesses who could not afford to have absent employees through maternity leave.
Many argue that in a broadly democratic HIC, it is impossible for the government to have a strong influence on personal decisions.