Why do young Singaporeans not want to have children?

Finances, emotional preparation and responsibility are key factors of consideration

A young woman (left) and young Asian man smiling at phone as Singaporeans couples delay their decision to start a family and have children.
Young Singaporeans weigh financial challenges before starting a family and having children. (Photos: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE - Starting a family is a huge commitment. But many young Singaporeans are hesitant to have children due to various reasons including the rising cost of living, skyrocketing property prices and the struggle of finding a partner.

Yahoo Southeast Asia interviewed young millennials and Gen Zs to understand why starting a family isn't a priority for them and what could potentially change their minds. Let's dive into their perspectives!

Finances, work and travel

Many young Singaporeans feel that the rising cost of living and skyrocketing property prices make starting a family financially challenging.

Nadhirah, a 25-year-old, expressed her concerns about the hefty expenses involved in raising a child over the next 20 years. She believes that the increasing cost of living has shifted the priority away from starting a family.

"It’s not a pain worth going through for the amount of money I’ll be spending the next 20 over years. There are people out there who would love to start a family but with the increasing cost of living, it’s no longer a priority," she said.

"I’m already struggling with wedding plans and getting a BTO queue number. The wedding finances are hurting my monthly expenditure despite spending only on what I need with. It’s an additional financial burden I don't want to have."

She also shared her recent attempt at attaining a queue number for a 4-room flat located in central Singapore for a cost of around $600,000. Fearful of losing the slot, Nadhirah and her fiancee paid the downpayment, leaving little budget left for potentially having kids.

Sarah, a 28-year-old marketing executive, echoed these sentiments over allocated finances for parenting. She also expressed concerns over her ability to balance work while caring for a child, pointing out that a considerable chunk of your life has to be devoted and sacrificed.

Tessa, a 22-year-old fresh graduate, mentioned her dilemma between having kids and using her money for other things such as travel. She sees the financial freedom to explore and experience new things as a compelling alternative to starting a family.

"I feel like this amount of money could be used to do other things like travel the world, so sometimes I'm torn between wanting kids and using that money to travel," she said.

Lack of emotional preparation and responsibility of parenthood

Emotional readiness is another aspect that concerns young Singaporeans. They are increasingly aware of the responsibility and commitment required to raise a child.

Nadhirah shared her doubts about being emotionally prepared to be a mother, highlighting her discomfort with crying children. She believes that it wouldn't be fair to the child if she cannot be the best mother she aspires to be.

"I’m not emotionally prepared (or will I ever be) to raise a kid. I can’t stand being in the same room as a crying child, let alone be with one that I can’t return. I’m not going to be a great mother and that won’t be fair for the child," she said.

Roland, a 28-year-old project manager, also emphasised the importance of responsible parenting. He believes that inadequate parenting can contribute to negative outcomes for children.

"The huge responsibility of raising children properly is a concern that I feel many people do not recognise. Bad parenting can contribute to bad children," said Roland.

Nadhirah also shared that many of her female friends have similar sentiments against going through the pain of labour, and as such would rather not start a family.

How to encourage young Singaporeans to start families

Providing resources, time, and external support to new parents would increase their willingness to start families, Roland believes. He, however, acknowledged the lack of awareness about existing financial support schemes.

"I think if new parents are able to find the resources, time and external support to know how to raise their children properly, or to the best of their abilities, more couples would be willing to try to start families. I’m not exactly sure what sort of support young parents can get where I am now," he voiced.

Tessa added that making parenthood more affordable for young working parents could make a significant difference, advocating for more education and awareness about the government's existing financial aid programmes.

"I’m not super aware of all the financial support schemes that the government already has in place for new parents, so maybe more education and awareness might be useful," said Tessa.

The general consensus is that young Singaporeans need more information about the support available to them if they decide to start a family.

By making parenthood more accessible and providing guidance and support, an environment where young Singaporeans feel more comfortable embarking on the journey of parenthood can be created.

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