I am in my thirties and I have two kids, aged four & two. Having a 3rd child is something that Mrs Wang and I talk about from time to time. We like the idea, but it requires careful consideration.
For us, the real constraint is time. If you want to raise kids, you should do it properly. To do it properly, you need time. I think we currently do a respectable job as parents of two kids. But the way I see it, if No. 3 comes along, then Mrs Wang has to quit her job to be a full-time mum.
If Mrs Wang quits her job, then she has no salary. That's the problem. So maybe the real constraint is money, after all.
Right now, I wouldn't have any real difficulty supporting three young kids on my sole income. Apart from earning more than the average Singaporean, I am also a lot less materialistic. A simple lifestyle and a happy family is good enough for me.
The problem is whether I, as sole breadwinner, would be able to continue to earn enough to support the family, as the years go by. The target would be to:
(a) support three children until they graduate from university; and
(b) still have enough to support myself and my wife in our old age.
Note Part (b) of the target. This is one important difference between society in the past, and society in the present. In the past, it was more or less understood that adult children would support their aged parents (the filial piety concept). Today, that understanding is already somewhat breaking down. I think that in the future, it will probably break down even more.
I belong to the middle phase. While I give some money to my parents every month, I myself do not have the expectation that my kids will do the same for me, when I am old. When that time comes, they may have financial obligations of their own. I see it as a basic responsibility to myself, to try as far as possible to depend on myself, not them.
That's why the target has Part (b). Which increases the financial challenge, and makes the decision to have a 3rd child more difficult. Not impossible, but more difficult.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Of course, I strive to do well in my career and earn more money; and also I try to invest smart and make more money out of more money. Apart from that, my new Master Plan for the 3rd Kid actually relies on the Integrated Resorts and the Foreign Talent policy.
My intention is to save up money now, and wait for 2011 or 2012. Here's how it could happen. By 2012, the IR would have been operating for a year or two. A fair number of rich, gambling Singaporeans would suddenly go bankrupt and the banks will come chasing. Nice houses and apartments will be auctioned off at firesale prices, and Mr Wang will be waiting with hard cash, to pounce on a nice one in a choice location.
Meanwhile, by then, the foolish Singapore government will still be persisting with their Foreign Talent policy. All these FTs will need a place to stay, and overpopulation is good for property owners. I rent out my new house, and collect a handsome rental amount, and comfortably feed three kids while still working and saving for my own retirement.
Of course, this is just one possible permutation. A variety of different things could happen. And there are also timing issues. One of the constraints in baby planning is the woman's body clock. Wait too long, and the woman will find it difficult or impossible to conceive.
So these are some of the things I'm thinking about. As you can see, baby-planning can be a lot more complicated than PM Lee makes it out to be.
Technorati: Singapore; family planning; foreign talent.