Population Policy in a Prosperous City-State: Dilemmas for Singapore

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Abstract

Singapore has achieved one of the highest levels of per capita income in the world, through sound economic planning and a stress on building its human capital. Yet its enviable living conditions are at risk of being enjoyed by fewer citizens, and indeed themselves placed in jeopardy, by the continued very low fertility levels. Ultra-low fertility and growing reluctance by citizens to accept an increasing share of foreign-born pose difficult dilemmas for population policy, given the planning scenario of reaching a resident population of 6.5 million. A range of pro-marriage and pronatalist policies has failed to raise fertility substantially, while past success in modifying population trends and structure through migration has now encountered the twin problems of political constraints on the volume of immigration that is acceptable and a possible increase in emigration of Singapore citizens.

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