Last year, The New York Times featured the headline:
"Singapore, hoping for a baby boom, makes sex a civic duty". The
report continued: "Here in strait-laced Singapore, it's the new
patriotism: Have sex.
"Alarmed by its declining birthrate, this tiny city-state of just
four million people is urging its citizens to multiply as fast as they
"We need more babies," proclaimed Prime Minister Goh Chok
Another article in the Straits Times, which featured the
headline "Let's get on the love wagon", included tips for having
sex in the back seat of a car, with directions to "some of the
darkest, most secluded and most romantic spots for Romeos and
I am not advocating procreation as a civic duty for Australians, simply
highlighting a smart country that has recognised the importance of
sustaining its population and taken steps to address its declining
Australia must also start addressing this serious issue.
The Singapore Government is offering cash to couples who have second
and third children. It is also spending $50 million over five years to
educate the public on family life.
Australia's population is ageing rapidly. One reason is that
Australians are living longer. In 1901, the average life expectancy was 55
years. Today it is 76 for men and 82 for women, and that is expected to
Another reason is that the great post-war baby-boomer generation is
about to enter retirement and, in 15 to 20 years' time, will become the
This is what I call the numerical ageing of the population. The real
problem, however, is structural ageing caused by the decline in
Australia's fertility rate.
For more than two decades, our fertility rate has been below what is
required to sustain the population. It is currently 1.7 babies per woman,
and is expected to drop to 1.5.
There are limits to what governments can do about boosting fertility
rates, but it is important we do something.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.