18
May
2018
|
10:13
Europe/Amsterdam

A look into Singapore families, population

Singapore’s families and population since independence are examined in a new book edited by NUS researchers

Family and Population Changes in Singapore, a compilation of research over the past five years on the changes in and challenges facing Singapore’s families and population structures since the nation gained independence, was launched at the International Sociological Association (ISA) Joint Conference for the Research Committees of Family and Population on 17 May.

The book — edited by Professor Jean Yeung, Director, Centre for Family and Population Research (CFPR) at NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and Dr Hu Shu, Research Fellow at CFPR and Asia Research Institute (ARI) — discusses factors that have shaped the transformation of families in Singapore such as globalisation, ethnic and religious influence, and social policies, as well as current challenges including a low fertility rate, high singlehood rate, rapidly ageing population, and a workforce where one-third is made up of foreigners.

Family is a critical part of nation building in Singapore…The family not only provides shelter but also a sense of belonging.

The authors argue that fundamental shifts to culture and institutions are necessary to address these trends and offer several suggestions. These include reducing gender inequality in employment advancement for women, shortening work hours and dialling back on the competitive culture facing both children and adults, and providing additional support for inter-ethnic and cross-cultural marriages as these tended to see higher cases of divorce.

“Family is a critical part of nation building in Singapore…The family not only provides shelter but also a sense of belonging,” said Prof Yeung, who is also Provost’s Chair Professor at NUS Sociology.

Professor Yi Chin-Chun, President of the ISA’s Research Committee on Family Research and Professor Judith Seltzer from University of California, Los Angeles each provided a commentary on the book. A lively question-and-answer session succeeded the presentations during which issues such as availability of community-level data and the impact of increased mobility of young adults on caring for elderly parents were raised.

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A question-and-answer segment featuring (from left) Prof Yi, Prof Yeung, Dr Hu and Prof Seltzer was chaired by Prof Emeritus Charles Hirschman, University of Washington

Several of the book contributors shared key findings from their research. They included Dr Suriani Suratman from the Department of Malay Studies at FASS who spoke about dual-income households among Malay families in Singapore; ARI Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Lavanya Balachandran who expounded on the heterogeneity of the Indian community in Singapore; and Associate Professor Thang Leng Leng, CFPR Deputy Director who held forth on Singapore’s policy approach to ageing.

The ISA Joint Conference for the Research Committees of Family and Population was organised by CFPR in collaboration with the NUS Global Asia Institute and NUS Sociology. The theme of the three-day conference was “Changing Demography <==> Changing Families” and it was attended by some 300 academics from 38 countries, as well as local researchers and practitioners.

See media coverage.