Many not aware of fertility issues

SINGAPORE - Despite Singapore's declining birth rate, a high proportion of single Singaporeans want to get married and have at least two children, a survey has found.

But their top three reasons for not yet tying the knot: A desire to concentrate on their careers and studies, a lack of money and the fact that they've not met a suitable partner.

These were the findings of the Marriage and Parenthood Study 2012 commissioned by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD).

The results released yesterday showed that 83 per cent of the 2,120 single respondents indicated a desire to get married. Some 80 per cent of singles, and 84 per cent of 2,526 married respondents, said they wanted to have two or more children.

Similar studies were also carried out in 2004 and 2007.

In the latest study, all 4,646 respondents comprised Singaporeans and permanent residents aged between 21 and 45. They were surveyed between September 2011 and August last year.

The survey aims to understand the attitudes and motivation behind marriage and parenthood.

Dr Yap Mui Teng, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, said that time and money pose the greatest "obstacles" to couples settling down.

She explained that young people generally expect to find a suitable partner on their own through dating - which requires both time and money.

She added: "Singaporeans are also known to work long hours."

The study's other findings: Some 70 per cent of singles, and 77 per cent of married respondents, assumed that couples would have little problem having children even beyond the age of 35.

"Many are unaware that male and female fertility decline with age, and assisted-reproduction technology cannot compensate for the age-related decline in fertility," NPTD said.

A sales director who wanted to be known only as Kevin, told My Paper that "finding time to procreate is the hard part".

The 39-year-old, who travels frequently, and his wife, 37, have been married for over a decade, but having children "wasn't a huge priority" at first.

He said: "We thought if it happened, it happened. But one year turned into another." The couple is now exploring alternative methods, such as in-vitro fertilisation.

The majority of respondents - 79 per cent of the singles and 82 per cent of married respondents - felt they had good work-life balance. However, some aspects could be improved, as respondents reported being exhausted when they came home from work, among other gripes.

National University of Singapore sociologist Daniel Goh said that "practical problems" need to be addressed by the Government.

He said: "Treat marriages like entrepreneurships with strong risk-taking involved. The Government cannot make entrepreneurs, but it can provide a supportive eco-system for couples to take the plunge."

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