Singapore had one of the lowest birth rates in the world even before the coronavirus pandemic turned childbirth into (even more of) a nightmare. Now it's fighting back—with cash. The island state is offering a one-time baby bonus of $3,000 (about $2,200 in American dollars) to encourage couples to have a child during the pandemic, reports Channel News Asia. The offer applies to babies born from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2022. "We have received feedback that COVID-19 has caused some aspiring parents to postpone their parenthood plans," Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat says, per the BBC. This is "fully understandable" given financial uncertainty, he adds, per the Guardian. He said he hopes the bonus, on top of existing benefits worth up to $7,300 in American dollars, will ease the financial burden.
Singapore's fertility rate hit an eight-year low in 2018 with an average of 1.14 births per woman, and was unchanged in 2019, per Fox News. Its neighbor China is facing a similar problem, with its birth rate hitting a 70-year low earlier this year. But while Singapore has seen no uptick during the pandemic, some countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines, are expecting spikes in pregnancies. Back in April, the United Nations Population Fund predicted 7 million unintended pregnancies "if the lockdown carries on for six months" with 47 million women in 114 low- and middle-income countries at risk of losing access to contraceptives. (The global fertility rate is expected to crash by the end of the century.)