Hopes fade for 1.2 total fertility rate to improve.
Singapore government's white paper released today mentioned that in 2011, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 1.20. It has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 for more than three decades.
To boost Singapore's population, the government said that it will continue to welcome immigrants who can contribute to Singapore, share its values and integrate into the society.
We do not expect our TFR to improve to the replacement rate of 2.1 in the short term. Taking in younger immigrants will help us top up the smaller cohorts of younger Singaporeans, and balance the ageing of our citizen population. To stop our citizen population from shrinking, we will take in between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizens each year. We will review this immigration rate from time to time, depending on the quality of applicants, our birth rates, and our changing needs.
Permanent residence is an intermediate status through which foreigners take up citizenship. It is meant for those who have a long-term stake in Singapore and intend to sink roots here. We have tightened up significantly on the number of PRs granted each year. We have come down from a high of 79,000 new PRs in 2008 to about 30,000 each year currently. We plan to maintain the current pace. This will keep a stable PR population of between 0.5 and 0.6 million, and ensure a pool of suitable potential citizens.
Low and falling TFR is not unique to Singapore. Many developed Western countries, and East Asian societies such as Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, suffer the same problem.
More Singaporeans are marrying non-Singaporeans. About 40% of Singaporean marriages each year are between a Singaporean and a non-Singaporean – some 9,000 in 2011 alone.
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