The Number 1 Problem in Today's World!
Today’s World and Developed Countries’ Number One Problem
I would like to bring to the attention of parents, especially mothers, the situation
in today’s world, especially developed countries like Singapore, Japan, Korea, and the European countries. Based on the Singapore demographic, we are a rapidly aging population and the birthrate/ fertility rate is 1.01.
Instead of a pyramid shape, which is positive, we have a diamond shape or an inverted pyramid. The Institute of Policy Studies has gathered statistics showing that Singapore needs 60,000 immigrants to keep our economy young or economically active. We cannot take in that many immigrants.
Currently, we can only manage 20,000 to 25,000 immigrants in a year, but we can definitely not have 60,000 immigrants entering the country in a single year. This situation is similar to Japan, which has a shrinking and aging population. Japan has refused to take any migrants.
Although Singapore is taking in 25,000, which is reasonable, we are also moving in that direction. If our birthrate is 1.8, we can still manage to have 20,000 migrants. With a birthrate of 2.1, we will be able to replace ourselves, but the trend and the reality in all developed countries is that once women are educated and working at jobs, the fertility rate goes down to one. This is because the cost of living is too high. A double income becomes a single one once you have a child.
Pregnancy and looking after the child during the first few years are the greatest concerns. When you have a second child, that requires more income. This issue does not only affect Singapore but also all developed countries, especially those in Europe. The only developed country that is not affected is the United States, where they have huge open spaces and the people have a sense of optimism, so they are willing to have a second child. In contrast, Singapore is a pretty crowded place, which can be seen in the fact that home prices have gone up.
Watch “How Can We Foster a Sense of Belonging and Social Cohesiveness?” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymoM0HJoHgk&t=51s) and you will have a better picture of what the reality is today. The questions that Mr. Lee was asking the female Ph.D. student made me realize that a lot of our children will face this issue in the future.
Today, having a bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum for any job application. So, can you imagine what it will be in another five to ten years? A master’s degree? It also means that our children will have to study more years before they can enter the workforce or eventually start a family.
An average university graduate with a bachelor’s degree will be about 24 to 25 years old before they can go out into the workforce. If the average young adult can get married by the age of 30, there will still be enough time for them to build up their financials and have their first child by the age of 32. In this case, that will leave some time to have a second child by the age of 35, especially for women.
(Chart showing the years of studying and dating to marriage. For illustration purpose only.)
7 to 12 years old (6 years) — Primary School Education (P.S.L.E)
13 to 16/17 years old (4–5 years) — Secondary School Education (“N” level and “O” level)
17 to 20 years old (2–3 years) — Polytechnic & Junior College (Diploma/“A” level)
21 to 24 years old (3–4 years) — University (Degree)
Total 15–17 years of formal education
Ten years ago, having a diploma or degree was the minimum qualification to get a job, but now, as of this writing, you need to have a master’s degree in order to secure a good-paying job. If you continue your studies to earn a master’s degree, you will be at least 27 to 28 years old when you graduate.
In most developed countries, it takes people at least three to five years to be financially ready for marriage. This is provided that the profession that our children study for is applicable in the working world in the future. There will not be any time for a career switch if they realize that whatever they studied is not going to get them a job when they graduate. This would mean that they would have to start all over again.
I hope parents can see all this from a macro view. If parents look around and see this in terms of their friends, they will realize that most of them are not in the profession that they studied for in their tertiary education or in university.
In the my next blog, I will be sharing about “Why Every Mother Deserves to Be an Entrepreneur?”