Singapore’s population growth can be improved by tweaking housing policies

Singapore still has a problem with not enough babies, despite its policies that promote marriage and parenting.

Housing measures encourage marriage. The Housing and Development Board offers subsidised flats to local couples that meet certain criteria. Couples who tie the knot will be able to benefit in the future from owning a HDB Build-to-Order flat.

A recent refinement is that, as of June’s BTO, a local pair consisting of a full time national serviceman, and a full time student, who are both eligible for deferred assessments of income, can pay an initial downpayment of only 2.5 percent of the purchase price at the signing of the Agreement for Lease. This must be done within nine month of booking an apartment. The remainder of 17,5% of the total purchase price must be paid when collecting keys.

Housing move

Could more be done to boost TFR, in addition to other efforts?

First, giving more single young adults the opportunity to live independently may increase their chances of finding love.

HDB could build rental homes specifically for single young adults. Singles under 35 could lease these public rental housing apartments at affordable rates.

Co-living operators have popularized elements in rental flats for single young people, like sophisticated shared areas to encourage socialising. Have a state of the art gym, a fully furnished communal kitchen and co-working space.

Prioritise married couples below 30 years old in order to secure new HDB apartments.

Recent changes granted married couples below 40 years old additional priority when applying for a BTO. As an example, they receive a second ballot with their application for a BTO flat.

In general, the median marriage age has been increasing over the years. Due to the fact that age can have an impact on fertility, it is important for married couples who are 30 or younger to be given priority when applying for a BTO. This could result in couples getting married sooner and having more children.

Implementing housing incentives that are linked to the number of kids a couple possesses

In the future, purchasers of HDB Plus and Prime homes will be required to repay a portion when selling their flats, as these units are located in desirable locations, which receive greater subsidies.

Perhaps a couple from the locality with two children will get some of their BTO unit back. Payback amounts can increase for a family with three or more children.

Consider building HDB apartments island-wide that are larger, say, than newly-built 5-room units. They may be 1,200 sq ft.

Build HDB Jumbo Flats of four to five bedrooms with an average area of 1,500 sq. ft. These new HDB flats are for local families who have three or more children. After all, a larger house is better for raising a large family.

Based on current market values, these jumbo flats may be sold directly to HDB

Fifth, you can give local couples with kids concessions in their home loan payments. Financial stress can be reduced by reducing the burden of a large, multi-year loan.

Couples with children will be able to play a more flexible role if they need to, freeing up time to raise their child. In fact, parents are eager to spend more time with children, particularly in their younger years.

Sixthly, provide a way for high-earning couples to buy a home, even if they exceed the income limit of BTOs or executive condominiums. The BTO income ceiling is S$14,000 and the ceiling for EC is S$16,000.

For young local couples buying their first home, the Buyer’s Stamp Duty could be waived. Saving nearly S$70,000 on a S$2 Million home could be a great deal to a couple.

It may be that helping high-earning couples buy a house in their locality will encourage talented, busy young people to move forward with their plans for marriage and childbirth.

You’re paying a high price

The suggestions above are not exhaustive, and they may not be radical enough.

Additional housing-related measures to assist young people will be expensive. HDB already has a large deficit with its Home Ownership Programme. Further, the government may increase its expenditure to fund rising healthcare costs.

The school system, workplace culture, and perceptions about social mobility are all important factors that influence couples’ decision to have children.

Respect the right to choose whether or not you want children. Some people might prefer being single or not be able to find the perfect partner. Some people don’t want children, or they may think adding more people to the world is bad for the environment.

TFR boost is crucial to Singapore’s long-term economic growth. It is not negotiable that Singapore’s economy be successful in order to collect taxes and pay for social services, healthcare and other needs.

Many parents spend a lot of money to raise their kids

Singapore may have to pay a higher price for the society to encourage more babies.

Numerous countries in the developed world also have a severe fertility problem. Singapore must strive to be unique by tackling the fertility dilemma in a creative way.

We will soon welcome a new prime minister. Let’s focus on housing and other issues for a future in which many young Singaporeans are likely to have large families.

The Jumbo HDB flats are for local couples who have three children or more.

Singaporeans’ total fertility rates (TFRs) for females have fallen to an all-time low of just 0.97, compared with a high of 1.7 in early 1990s.

30510 resident births are expected in 2023 compared to over 46,000 mid-1990s.

TFR could increase significantly in 2024 as it is the Chinese year of dragon.

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