Fewer babies born in Singapore last year despite incentives

baby-singaporeSINGAPORE: Fewer babies were born in Singapore last year, according to statistics announced on Wednesday, despite generous government incentives to boost fertility in the city-state.

A total of 33,167 Singaporeans were born in 2016, compared to 33,725 in the previous year, the Singapore Department of Statistics said. However, the 2016 births remained above a 10-year average, it said.

According to the World Bank, wealthy Singapore had the fourth-lowest fertility rate in the world in 2015.

The government enhanced its incentives scheme in 2015, giving out as much as S$10,000 (US$7,400) in cash to new parents. The public housing policy prioritizes married couples.

The statistics show Singapore’s total population was up an annual 0.1%at 5.61 million by June this year, the slowest in at least a decade.

The number of people on work permits in Singapore fell sharply, hit by weakness in the construction and marine engineering sectors, the statistics department said. The number of permanent residents was stable, but the number of citizens was up 0.9% at 3.44 million, the data showed.