Population management and reproduction in Singapore
This paper addresses issues of population policy and stratified reproduction in Singapore. When Singapore gained its independence in 1965 the government initiated an ambitious modernization program. The economy was restructured, farmland and villages were torn down to give way to high‐rise housing estates and infrastructure, and the education system was reformed. Population management has been (and still is) another central component of the modernization project. The Singaporean state has attempted to control the size, structure and “quality” of its population through a multitude of population and family planning policies. This “making and patrolling of the body politic” (Ong and Peletz 1995: 6) is closely related to narratives of national survival; the Singaporean state habitually reminds its subjects of the country’s exposed geographical location and (supposed) lack of natural resources, as well as the challenges of increasing competition from other countries in the region. In these narratives of national survival, human capital is constructed as the only means whereby Singapore and Singaporeans can stay competitive in a globalized world economy. The emphasis on the quality of the population is not only reflected in population and family planning policies, it is also reflected in the education system and in immigration policies, as well as in ideas and practices of parenting and the value of children in everyday life. This paper will discuss state rationalities of population and family policies aimed at managing reproduction, and the importance of understanding how people in their everyday life negotiate, reproduce and/or challenge the expectations implied by narratives of national survival.
- Social Work
Asia Dynamics Initiative Conference: "Growth: Critical Perspectives from Asia"