by Kathy Jones on  February 3, 2011 at 9:00 PM Lifestyle News
 Have More Babies in Year of Rabbit, Says Singapore PM
Singaporeans were urged to have more babies in the new Year of the Rabbit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday as he said additional children would bring "more joy" to families.

Lee, a father of four, said in his Lunar New Year message that getting Singaporeans to produce more babies has been a challenge but he hoped more would be born during the Rabbit year.

Singapore's resident fertility rate -- the number of babies born per woman -- fell to an all-time low of 1.16 in 2010 during the Year of the Tiger.

While immigrants have filled in the population shortfall, "we also need Singaporeans to produce enough babies to replace ourselves, and that has proved extremely challenging," he said.

"I hope more couples will start or add to their families in the Year of the Rabbit. Chinese New Year is the time for families to come together in celebration, and more babies can mean only more joy in the years to come."

Local-born Singaporeans must maintain a clear majority in the population mix so they can "set the tone of our society and uphold our core values and ethos," the prime minister said.

With falling birth rates, Singapore rolled out the welcome mat for foreign workers during the 2004-2007 economic boom.

But after the 2008 global financial crisis, the government took a fresh look following complaints from citizens that foreigners were increasingly competing for jobs, housing, medical care and even space on metro trains.

The inflow of foreign workers has slowed and full citizens were given more social and other benefits over foreigners.

Singapore currently has a population of more than five million, a quarter of whom are foreigners.

Source: AFP

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