To address a growing shortage of single men, a plan to attract male migrants to Singapore between the ages of 30 to 45 has been announced, and received plenty of positive feedback both at home and abroad from social and economic experts.
Under the plan, which has been proposed by a privately-owned Singaporean marriage consultancy, any migrants who move to Singapore and marry a local woman over the age of 30 (and remain married for at least two years) will receive a cash incentive of SG$25,000 (US$18,000).
The proposal is a drastic measure aimed to help the surplus of women over the age of 30 who are unmarried, which is believed to be mainly driven by a lack of eligible local bachelors. Speaking to journalists, the plan’s co-author Dr Fiona Tay discussed the rationale for the cash incentive.
“There are an estimated 200,000 unmarried Singaporean women between the ages of 30 to 40. If these women never find a suitable partner to marry, they are unlikely to raise children, and this will contribute to a further decline of Singapore’s already-low fertility rate.” Dr Tay explained that Singapore’s fertility rate is already one of the lowest in the world.
“As of 2014, the national fertility rate was only 1.3 children per female,” she said. “This is lower than Japan, a country that already has an ageing population crisis. If nothing is done to encourage these women to marry and have children, we will be facing an economic catastrophe within the next 20 years.”
In this context, the plan outlined by Dr Tay and her fellow consultants makes sense economically. “While it is a large investment to attract male migrants to Singapore now, the increased fertility rate will pay dividends in the future.” Economic experts agree with the projections made by the marriage consultancy.
“While the key benefit from this proposal is the increased birth rate, encouraging migration to Singapore has other positive implications,” said Professor Damien Wong, an expert on economic development. “Migrants bring with them new skills and talent for the workforce, and I forecast the proposal could help boost GDP growth by at least ten basis points over the next decade.”
Despite the positive response from experts, there has been some criticism of the plan by local Singaporeans, particularly men. “This proposal sets up an unfair advantage for foreign men to attract Singaporean women,” wrote one local man on an online forum, “They already seem to have plenty of success at that, so I don’t think they need to be encouraged further.”