482.3 Pronatalist policies in the context of a liberal familial welfare system in Asia

Friday, August 3, 2012: 11:25 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Shirley Hsiao-Li SUN , Sociology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
In the context of the rapidly declining fertility that comes with modernization, what might be the shifting roles of state and family in caring for children?  This paper attempts to answer this question by drawing on the conceptual framework of “liberal familialism”, and semi-structured personal interviews and focus-group discussions with Singaporean citizens regarding their views, opinions, and lived experiences with respect to the state’s population policies aimed at encouraging childbearing among citizens.   

Major findings include that current incentives are perceived only as short-term benefits with very limited effects, as interviewees consider childbearing a long-term commitment and want more direct and universal state subsidies (particularly in the realm of education).  At the same time, respondents remain convinced that their own family members would be the best caregivers for young children, and that the unavailability of such informal support hinders positive childbearing decision-making.  While the second demographic transition in Europe has been theorized as a function of individualization, life-style choice, and transformation of intimacy, this paper suggests that the persistent low fertility in Singapore despite its pronatalist policies is remarkably a function of the liberal familialist welfare regime and the underdeveloped role of the state in care provision.