Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Honey, we can't afford the kids - Opinion -

Cute. Anyone know where the Singaporean equivalent is? I'm pretty certain one of the ministries did it as part of the whole more pro-family policies a.k.a have more babies policy put forth by the government.

Anyway for anyone who claims that having a kid is not simply about the money should still have a look at his article. It's mostly culled fron the actual report but it makes for a quick insight into what are the added monetary cost of raising a family.

Just one small point to add here which I think is relatively pertinent to our situation in Singapore. The cost of living in Singapore is high (despite what the papers say, just because shopping is relative cheap in town doesn't mean living is). The Economist puts Singapore as the 11th most expensive town to live in, just after New York.

As a crude manner of measure, assume that MacDonald's normally pays minimum wage (something relatively consistent across the world) and then calculate how many hours it would take to purchase an extra-value meal working there. It take 1 and 3/4 of a hour to do so here. But a mere 3/4 of an hour in the US (Orange County, which is a tourist area so not a cheap place to live either). On a most optimistic calculation of a meal at a food court, it works out to about 1 to 1 1/4 of a hour still. But it is a very crude measure given that meals make up a pretty low percentage of our income expenditure now. The real figures are probably worse given that what we deem to be a bare subsistance level is alot higher than it used to be (television and telephones etc. on top of a place to sleep and clothes to wear).

Anyway, after all that's been said and done. Assuming that a couple is your normal average Singaporean i.e. generally materialistic and kiasu (afraid to lose out) which makes for keeping up with the Jones (or the Tans in Singapore) a very interesting experience, then unless a spouse is making a ton of money, it is likely (if not an economic certainty) that both persons will be working. If so, having a child could be an even bigger financial burden (even accounting for the tax breaks) in that either a parent has to stay at home or additional payments to be made to a foster parent.

The economic imperative is made worse to the extent to which our work ethic/environment places a premium on working longish hours which is a killer for a family which would like to place a premium on family life instead. Quality time unfortunately seems to be a whole lot of bunk. At the end of the day quantity beats out quality it seems. And besides, how much quality time can you squeeze into a Sunday after spending the past 6 days working 14-16 hour per day?

I suppose that it is one answer that a child is not about the money or the cost of rearing up one. But that's waht they always say about the Olympics and invariably the cities are stuck with the bill for about a decade.


*Mr Fluffy requests that readers ignore the last post (see below). Any attempt otherwise i.e. to reconcile these two posts would lead to bewilderment, puzzlement and a rip in the fabric of space-time. Or at least what one of Mr Fluffy's flunky scientists told him. But the scientist may have been reading way too much comics and too little astrophysics.*


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