The effects of a chronically low birth rate are being felt in Singapore. TVNZ has reported that one of the island nation’s largest ever protests was held recently (at least 4000 people) to object to the government’s immigration policies and growing income disparities. This in reaction to a recent governmental discussion document:
“Parliament in the highly regimented city state last week approved a white paper that said the island’s population of 5.3 million could grow by as much as 30% to 6.9 million by 2030, mostly through foreign workers to offset a chronically low birth rate.
Critics say the island is already too crowded, with a population density exceeding that of rival Asian business centre Hong Kong. They blame the flood of foreigners over the past decade for stagnant wages, crowded trains and rising prices that put housing beyond the reach of the average Singaporean and say further inflows would change the very nature of the island.”
Why is the government doing this? Because Singaporeans are not having enough babies:
“The government says without new immigrants, the working-age population will start shrinking in 2020 while the total number of Singaporeans will begin to decline in 2025.”
But to bring in immigrants as a substitute for producing your own workers is not risk-free, as many are trying to tell the Singaporean government:
“The paper has prompted worries that further immigration could alter the character of the island.
Singaporeans account for 62% of 5.3 million residents, down from 75 percent in 2000 and the government plans to give citizenship to between 15,000 and 25,000 foreigners each year. Based on the white paper, the percentage of Singaporeans, including new citizens, will shrink to 55% by 2030.
Tan Jee Say, a former top civil servant turned opposition politician who also addressed the protest, accused the PAP of being obsessed with economic growth and ignoring the social costs of its immigration policy.
‘The white paper will completely change the character of our nation — not just for 18 years but forever,’ he said.”
As we’ve discussed before, immigration is one way to alleviate a declining or stagnating birth rate. But it is not problem free – it creates hardships for those who are being brought in and those that are being brought onto. Those complaining about their government’s policies might need to rethink their schedules and try to have some more babies.