The majority of Singaporeans don’t seem to know it’s harder to have children after the age of 35. The Marriage and Parenthood Study 2012 commissioned by the National Population and Talent Division reports:
About 70% of single and 77% of married respondents assumed that couples would have little problem having children even when they were over 35 years old. This indicates that many are unaware that male and female fertility decline with age, and assisted reproduction technology cannot compensate for the age-related decline in fertility.
An earlier study showed Singapore women who got married at 35 might end up having no children at all.
In the latest study, 83 per cent of the respondents said they wanted to get married. Over half of them were over 26 years old and their average age was 28. The top three reasons cited for not yet marrying were,: 1, they had not yet found a suitable partner, 2, they wanted to concentrate on their career or studies, 3, they did not have enough money. Sixty-one per cent in a “serious relationship” also said they were too young to get married.
Singaporeans are marrying later. The median age for marriage was 30 for men and 27.8 for women in 2011. That is, half the men were 30 years old and half the women over 27 when they got married for the first time. The median age for first-time mums was 29.8. In other words, half the women were nearly 30 years old when they had their first child, according to a National Population and Talent Division report published in June 2012. Women in many rich countries have children earlier, it pointed out.
Singapore’s total fertility rate – the number of children a woman is likely to have – is 1.2, one of the lowest in the world, and has become a matter of concern to the government.
More than 4,600 people aged 21 to 45 were surveyed in the new study, including over 2,100 singles and 2,500 married people.
How many children?
Half the married respondents were over 37 years old. Twenty per cent of the married respondents had no child, 29 per cent had one child, 36 per cent had two children, 12 per cent had three, and four per cent had four or more.
Sixty-seven per cent of the married respondents said they had enough children and did not want more. The main deterrent was financial cost, cited by 73 per cent of the respondents.
Good luck to the singles who want to get married. Not every one of them will be marrying Singaporeans, though. An increasing number are marrying foreigners. The proportion of Singaporeans marrying foreigners had gone up from 32.1 per cent in 2000 to 41 per cent in 2005 before settling at 39.4 per cent in 2011, according to the National Population and Talent Division report published in June 2012.