Should We Stop Condoming Singapore’s Economic Growth?

The MOM Labour Market Report has completely eclipsed Zika (for now) as the “oh shit” topic on Singaporeans’ minds.

Basically, don’t be surprised if you lose your job, and if it takes more than half a year to find a new one.

By the way, there were more foreign jobs (11k) created and Singaporean jobs shrank like you-know-what in cold weather.

Since our economic growth is slowing down, and yet we are squeezed to work harder with longer hours to do the same or even more work because fewer people are employed, and yet it’s not enough to reverse the downturn, and more people get laid off, what kind of vicious cycle are we entering?

Singapore GDP

Singapore’s slowing GDP growth (Business Insider/MTI)

I read a 2013 Forbes article on how more babies means more economic growth.

There’s even a chart showing this correlation below.

Population vs economy growth

GDP growth directly correlated with population increase (Forbes)

If long working hours and ridiculous ways of measuring productivity make Singaporeans so tired with little time and energy for themselves, then starting families is career suicide, no?

But then with less babies born because the condom is preferable to an empty bank account and lack of sleep, is our economic growth sustainable with the Singaporean workforce alone?

Singapore marriages and births

Marriages and births plateauing (ST/NPTD)

But we don’t want foreigners to overrun the country, we say.

It’s not like we have a choice, don’t we need people to do the jobs we purposely studied hard in order to avoid doing?

So foreign employment growth came mostly from foreigners on work passes who did the jobs that even our local retirees didn’t want to do, like face demanding customers in F&B, cleaning up after other adults made a mess and being a jaga.

Let’s look at the variables here:

– So we have no time and energy to procreate

– When we even muster the energy to, Durex and Okamoto get in the way of babies

Too many condom choices (BBC)

– We will then have fewer Singaporeans who want certain jobs and import foreigners to fill the gap

– But we don’t like too many foreigners

– And we still want the economy to grow so our houses and dollars will appreciate if not sure lose face

Something’s gotta give eventually.

Can we accept a shrinking economy?

More foreigners?

Us doing difficult jobs?

Spending more time on work to hopefully keep our jobs?

Accepting there may be fewer jobs to go around if we are looking for one?

Or boost our birth rate in a last ditch effort to replace our population?

Total fertility rate Singapore

Singaporeans are having fewer kids, and later (ST)

Of course we should acknowledge there are many people who aren’t even married because it’s really quite difficult to find the right one, or couples who cannot bear children due to health issues.

Not to mention many couples may postpone having babies till MOH comes with a solution to prevent the Zika virus from spreading to new mummies.

There are no easy answers, but as long as you keep the condoms on and hope life in Singapore will be Elysium forever, it’s not gonna happen.

This post isn’t about pointing fingers, but to talk about issues that keeps Singapore in a tough, tight knot.


Also published on Medium.

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