The ugly truth about Total Fertility Rate and foreign influx
Quoted from:

Yesterday we heard this argument again - if Singapore's fertility rate does not go up, we have to import more foreigners. A paper from the National Population and Talent Division, suggested that unless we get our TFR (Total Fertility Rate) up from 1.2 which is the lowest in Asia, we need an inflow of 25,000 to keep our working population stable[Immigration crucial in baby-scarce Singapore: Govt paper].

"Without immigration, the paper shows that citizen deaths will exceed births in 13 years. By 2025, the population will also start to age and shrink, with the median age being 45 - up from the current 39 years.

The citizen workforce will also start to shrink, with fewer working-age citizens supporting each elderly citizens.

Currently, there are 6.3 working-age citizens supporting each elderly citizen.

By 2030, this ratio will drop to 2.1 is to 1." - Today Report [Link]

I haven't gone through the numbers but lets take it that it is correct and reasonable to maintain a workforce of a constant size. That is not what the PAP govt did in the last 10 years - they were not maintaining the workforce but expanding it to ramp up the GDP:

The above chart shows just the new PRs + new citizens [Link]does not include the large non-resident workforce of more than 1 million (see previous posting). Lets get this clear : the large foreign influx of the last 10 years was not about maintaining our workforce due to declining TFR but to expand the workforce - the numbers of 100,000 (2008) is just too big to justify using declining TFR. Also, when you import an adult, you're compensating for lower TFR of 20-30 years ago when that adult should have been born in Singapore - our TFR was about 1.7 to 1.8 during that time. By expanding the workforce so rapidly in the last 10 years, we have a even bigger ageing workforce to replace in 2030 .....the PAP worsened the original problem through its liberal immigration policy now tells us that it needs to import people to fix it!

There are 3 options for a country when its TFR goes down 1. Get the TFR back up 2. Import people 3. Let the population age.

Most countries have taken option 1 and succeeded. Japan tried option 1, failed and are now at option 3. Many countries don't have the low TFR problem e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia, USA.

How did our TFR fall to the lowest or one of the lowest in the world? If you check the list of countries with lowest fertility in Wikipedia, Singapore appears near or at the bottom depending on data set[Link]. We are close to Macau and Hong Kong - 2 territories with similar combination of traits of very high population density and high income gap - in fact if you get another list of highest population density and income gap in the developed world, you find Singapore, Macau and Hong Kong right on top. The relationship between high population density has been found and researched [Link, Link].The PAP compounded the low fertility problem by importing more people causing the population density to increase and the HDB adds to this vicious cycle by shrinking flat sizes arguing that Singapore families are now smaller when in fact people have fewer children because they cannot afford bigger better housing.

Once the TFR falls, govts intervene to get it back up. In most cases, they are able to stabilise it to prevent it from falling further or better still get it back up.

"History shows that governments can raise birthrates close to replacement levels if they adopt the right policies. France and Sweden, for example, have crafted thoughtful, comprehensive and consistent policy responses that have largely reversed their declining birthrates over the long run."- Mind the Baby Gap

However, TFR in Singapore fell and kept falling until it became the lowest in the world [CIA Factbook]. How did this happen despite PAP govt claims that it was encouraging families to have more children?

The PAP efforts to get the TFR back up is tainted by other goals. In the late 80s when the problem was detected, the PAP govt wanted to take an eugenics approach to solving this problem with the graduate parents scheme - they wanted only graduate parents in particular married graduate women to have more children[Graduate Mother's Scheme]. The scheme neglected ordinary citizens, most of whom were not graduates and the govt saw a backlash at the 1986 elections and the scheme had to be scrapped. To get the TFR back up, govts that have succeeded implemented simple and non-discriminatory schemes e.g taking care of the delivery and medical expenses for the child during the early years. Giving financial aid, say, to families who need help to care for a child encourages more people to have children. However, these are not the type of schemes PAP implemented - the policies implemented by the PAP are highly discriminatory and tainted by other objectives.

Take the HOPE scheme as an example. It is meant to help poorer families with children's education and housing. However, families only qualify for aid if they have only one or 2 children - they get nothing if they have more children. Doesn't a family with 3 children need more help? How does denying help to families with 3 or more children lead to better outcomes for them? This help scheme is hijacked for the purpose of social engineering to discourage certain groups from having more children. How can our TFR be raise when hundreds of thousands of families belong to these groups are discouraged from having more children? How many of you come from modest income families with more than 2 wouldn't even exist if your parents went on the HOPE scheme!

Instead of simple financial incentive given to all women who have children, the govt decided to give financial incentives in the form of tax rebates - $20,000 for the 3rd & 4th child[Link]. These tax rebates have to be used within 5 years. Such financial incentives are targeted at high income families who can fully utilize the rebate because they pay higher income taxes - those earning $40K and below claim less than one tenth the rebate. Anyone with common sense knows that giving more money to those who are already highly paid and less or nothing to those who need it most is a bad incentive scheme to encourage Singaporeans to have more children. These schemes are not effective and have failed to boost our TFR.

We are in our present situation because of various policies the PAP has pursued over the years. Now they are using the current low TFR figure to justify importing more foreigners. Why not revamp the incentives scheme and encourage more women to have children by removing the discriminatory nature of the current schemes? Why not solve the housing issue and ease the burden of married Singaporeans?

The ugly truth is this ....I don't think the PAP govt cares if the workforce is largely native Singaporeans or imported. Only ordinary Singaporeans care and worry about this. For the PAP, Singapore is Singapore Inc and they take a corporatist view of things. Companies love to recruit trained personnel from other companies especially their competitors. It is cheaper to let other countries educate their people and supply us with a workforce. The moment China opened up, the PAP leaders were eager to conduct a war for talent to bring Chinese students here. In other countries, it may be done by private companies but never at the govt level in such a big scale. Leaders of other countries, be it South Korea, Japan or Taiwan focus on developing their own people to the fullest and relying on their own people to compete globally - they may recruit a small number of special talents e.g. S. Korean national soccer team coach but it is their own people that do the heavy lifting. It is this faith leaders have in their people that takes a country forward to achieve great things. Leaders who get into power and wished they had some other country's people will lead its own citizens from one disappointment to another.

For the PAP, it doesn't matter if this economy runs and hums with your children when they grow up or the somebody from the Philippines, China or India. But ask yourself, if you do not defend this island and contribute to its development for your family and your children, what else is it worth doing for?