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More marriages, citizen babies last year
MORE Singaporeans tied the knot last year and hospitals were busier too, delivering babies.
Preliminary figures released by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) on Monday indicated that the country's total fertility rate (TFR) rose to 1.25 in 2014, up from 1.19 the year before.
In raw numbers, there were some 33,000 citizen births last year, up from around 31,000 the year before.
However, the latest TFR still trails the seven-year high of 1.29 in 2012, when 38,641 babies were born. That was the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar, widely regarded as a popular and auspicious year to have children.
The TFR is defined as the average number of children that would be born per woman if all women lived to the end of their child-bearing years.
The NPTD, a division under the Prime Minister's Office, also reported 24,000 marriages involving at least one Singaporean in 2014 - the highest number since 1997.
There were 21,842 such marriages in 2013, and 23,192 in 2012.
The NPTD said the rise in number of marriages was likely facilitated in part by the greater availability of HDB flats.
It added that the trend could possibly have also been aided by more Singaporean children of baby boomers entering marriageable age.
The NPTD said: "The government has been supporting them in fulfilling their aspirations to marry and have children, for example, by increasing the supply of HDB flats.
"We will continue to support Singaporean families, including in the area of child care, and make it easier for both fathers and mothers to share the experience of bringing up their children."
A slew of initiatives have been launched in recent years to encourage people here to get married and start a family. These include the Parenthood Priority Scheme, which sets aside a proportion of flats for first-time married couples, and an enhanced baby bonus of up to S$8,000 per child.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu said the latest fertility and marriage rates were good news and a welcome gift for Singapore at a time when the nation is marking its 50th birthday this year.
She said: "This is indeed a good SG50 present for Singapore as she celebrates her 50 years of independence. I hope that these positive trends will continue in our jubilee year as we gain confidence in Singapore's future as a good place to raise our families, where many opportunities for education and jobs await our children."