Singapore is set to roll out a one-time cash bonus for citizens seeking to have children amid the global health crisis, the government announced this week, in a bid to boost one of the world’s lowest national birthrates.

With the weakened economy sliding the Southeast Asian country into recession, many citizens have chosen not to have children or placed their plans on hold, citing concerns about the future.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat acknowledged that widespread uncertainty about job security was playing a significant role in Singapore’s fertility rate but confirmed that the government would offer support to those eligible.

“We have received feedback that covid-19 has caused some aspiring parents to postpone their parenthood plans. This is fully understandable, especially when they face uncertainty with their income,” Heng said Monday, adding that more details of the plan would follow soon.

Singapore has an estimated 8.9 births per 1,000 people, according to the Guardian, and the country has long explored ways to boost its reproduction rate.

The government already has a baby bonus program in place to support parents by offering them up to $7,320 in benefits.

Singapore has a significantly lower coronavirus death toll than other countries, with 27 lives lost to the virus and 57,819 confirmed cases of the infection. The country entered a partial lockdown known as a “circuit-breaker” in early April, closing schools and restaurants and banning social gatherings until June.

About 90 percent of Singapore’s confirmed cases have been recorded among the country’s migrant workers, the Financial Times reported last week.

The Washington Post

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