NewsWire: 10/31/20

  • Singapore is planning to offer a one-off payment to encourage parents to have a baby during the Covid-19 pandemic. This would join a host of other “baby bonuses” that the city-state, which has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, already offers. (BBC News)
    • NH: Singapore is at it again. For years they have been offering incentives for their citizens to start families. (See "Singapore Struggles to Increase Birth Rate.") Now, fearing that the pandemic is lowering the fertility rate, the government is offering families S$3,000 ($2,000) if they have a child in the next two years.  
    • Singapore has one of the lowest total fertility rates (TFR) in the world. Hovering just over 1.1, it is far below the replacement level of 2.1. 
    • This low TFR has deep historical roots. Back in the 1960s, Singapore responded to a high TFR by actively promoting birth control. In the 1970s and 80s, its TFR plummeted. Singapore ended the birth control promotion and gradually introduced child subsidies (a path also trod by South Korea and many other East Asian societies), but with little effect. The TFR continued to decline.
    • Singaporeans (75% of whom are of Chinese ancestry) widely embrace the Confucian ethic, in which a married woman is expected put to service to her children and her husband's family above all other priorities. As educational levels rise and market opportunities grow, a rising share of Singaporean women are choosing not to have children so they can break away from this system.
    • The "baby bonuses" appear to be more effective with Singapore's ethnic Malay minority (about 15% of the population). Largely Muslim, the Malays have always had larger families. And due to their lower average family income, these Malays probably find the cash incentives to be more motivating.

Did You Know?

  • Nowhere to Run. The organizers of marathons and other big races are used to pivoting due to severe weather. But no one in the road-race industry has known how to respond to their latest crisis: Covid-19. Between mid-March and mid-October 2020, the number of finishers in timed races plummeted 95% compared to the same period last year. Of the six World Marathon Majors scheduled for 2020—marquee races in Boston, London, Tokyo, New York City, Chicago, and Berlin—four were cancelled and two were scaled back to include only small groups of elite runners. Race directors are starting to bring some races back, but the number of attendees is far smaller than usual due to state and local restrictions on gatherings. Many runners are also continuing to stay away out of caution. Some are registering for virtual alternatives that are being offered in lieu of in-person events, but not many (just 15% nationwide). Without the prizes and crowds, it’s just not the same.