Singapore’s birthrate could be increased by changing housing policy

Singapore is still facing a serious problem, and that’s not having enough children

Housing measures can be used to support marriage. Local couples who meet eligibility criteria are able to buy HDB-subsidised flats. The HDB Build-To-Order program offers eligible couples the chance to own a HDB BTO flat in the near future.

Starting with June’s BTO exercises, local couples consisting, for instance, of a national-serviceman who is a part-time student and a serviceman who is a fully-time national-serviceman will pay less initial down payment at signing the Agreement for Lease. The Agreement for Lease must be signed within nine-months of booking an flat. The final down payment of 17,5% is due at the time you collect your keys.

House moves

Could housing be boosted even further, alongside other initiatives, to increase TFR

First, allowing single young adults to be independent may improve their chances of securing a relationship.

HDB might consider building rental homes that are specifically targeted at young single adults. The HDB could consider building rental homes for local singles below the age of 35.

The rental apartments for young singles could include features popularized by operators of co-living, such as sophisticated communal spaces to encourage mingling. Consider a high-tech gym, fully-equipped kitchens, arts studios and coworking spaces.

Second, give married couples between 30 and 35 years old a priority when it comes to securing a new HDB apartment.

Recent changes give married couples eligible for BTO priority. The couple gets an extra ballot for their flat application.

The median age at first marriage has been steadily increasing. The age of a man or woman can affect fertility. Therefore, giving married couples below 30 years old more priority to get a BTO house could encourage couples to marry sooner and have more children.

Thirdly, consider offering housing incentives based on the number and age of children that a married couple has.

The HDB will require buyers of HDB homes built as of late that are classified Plus or Prime to give back a percentage of the sale proceeds they receive when they sell. This is because these HDB flats in desirable areas get larger subsidies.

Maybe a couple in the area with two kids will receive a part of what they have paid for their BTO. The payback may be greater for a couple who has three children or more.

Fourth, build HDB units islandwide which are larger than five-room new-build units. This may be approximately 1,200 square foot (sq ft).

Build HDB flats that have four or five rooms and are approximately 1,500 sq.ft. each. Allow local families to buy HDB Jumbo Flats for their own use. It is true that a spacious home makes it easier to raise a large group of children.

These jumbo-sized flats can be sold to HDB directly, based upon the current market valuation.

Fifth, consider giving concessions to couples in your area who have children on their home loans. The financial burden of servicing an expensive multi-year home mortgage can help to reduce the stress that comes with having children.

A move like this will give couples who have children more flexibility in the roles they play, so that there is more time available for their children. Parents value the time they spend with their kids, especially during their formative years.

Sixthly, allow high-earning Singaporeans who exceed the monthly income cap for BTO and executive condo (EC), to purchase a property. The BTO ceiling is S$14,000 whereas the ceiling of S$16,000.

The Buyer’s Stamp Duty can be waived for young couples from the locality who are buying their first private house. A couple might value the savings of nearly S$70,000 from BSD for a S$2,000,000 house.

Are there any HDB flats available for couples with more than three children?

Singapore’s female total fertility (TFR) rate has fallen sharply to 0.97 in 2023 from a peak of over 1.7 during the early 1990s.

The number of resident live births in 2023 is expected to be 30,510, compared with 46,000 at the middle of the 1990s.

TFR is expected to increase dramatically as 2024 marks the Chinese Year of Dragon.

Helping young couples with high incomes in their journey to home ownership could help them accelerate their marriage plans and become parents.

The price of paying

These suggestions are not exhaustive. They may also be too conservative.

Financially costly will be any additional measures taken to help local youths with housing. HDB is already running a deficit on its Home Ownership Programme. The government’s expenditure could also rise in order to finance the rising costs of healthcare.

Factors such as the educational system, workplace policies, as well as perceptions regarding social mobility, also influence the decision of couples to have children.

Respecting the personal choice of being single or having no children. Some people are single because they cannot find a partner or prefer it. Some people do not want to have children or believe that increasing the human population will harm the environment.

However, TFR plays a crucial role in Singapore’s economic stability. In order to pay taxes for social and healthcare needs, a strong economy is a must.

Parents often invest heavily in their children’s education. Singapore residents may be forced to pay an even higher price by the rest of society in order to have more children.

Yes, many other countries in richer nations also suffer from a fertility crisis. Singapore should strive to be the exception by solving the fertility conundrum creatively.

We need to do more for housing and other aspects of the economy, as we prepare to welcome a brand new Prime Minister in Singapore soon.

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