More young singles do not intend to marry and more have not dated seriously: Marriage and Parenthood survey 2016

SINGAPORE – Most of Singapore’s young singletons intend to marry and most married couples plan to have children, though challenges to get more hitched have risen.

A latest government survey of nearly 3,000 singles aged 21 to 35 showed that more of them are planning to remain single, while two in five have never dated someone seriously with a view towards marriage.

Among the singles not dating seriously, 40 per cent prefer to leave dating to chance. As for those seeking potential partners, more are getting comfortable doing so via online channels and dating apps, and more of them have met their partners this way.

These were some of the findings released by the National Population and Talent Division (NTPD) yesterday from its Marriage and Parenthood survey, which is conducted once every three to four years.

Commissioned to understand public attitudes and perceptions toward marriage and parenthood, the survey polled 2,940 single and 2,861 married Singapore residents, aged 21 to 45 years old, in 2016.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Josephine Teo, who oversees population matters, wrote on Facebook yesterday that she is happy that marriage and parenthood remain important life goals that many Singaporeans aspire to.

The survey showed 83 per cent of single millennials, those aged between 21 and 35, indicated they intend to marry, a slight dip from 86 per cent in 2012. Similar surveys were conducted in 2004, 2007 and 2012.

“The aspirations captured in the survey give us hope. It also points to what more we can do as a community to help our fellow Singaporeans achieve those aspirations,” wrote Mrs Teo.

“Some areas the Government is looking into include developing the dating landscape, creating family-friendly and inclusive workplaces and improving pre-school support,” she added.

The findings on married respondents showed that, similar to previous years, most couples prefer to have two or more children.

Across the infancy and early childhood years of up to six years, both men and women prefer full-time work with flexible work arrangements, over full-time work without such arrangements and part-time work.

More husbands are now sharing the load of childcare responsibilities with their wives, though the women still bear the brunt of it.

For singles, Dr Mathew Mathews, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies and research consultant for the 2016 survey, said they need to be more proactive instead of leaving dating to chance.

Statistics show that more Singapore residents in their mid to late 20s are staying single. They make up 70 per cent of the people in their age group in 2015, a sharp rise from 50 per cent about 15 years ago, according to the latest General Household Survey.

“The top reason cited by singles for not dating was not being able to find a partner. Hopefully, more singles will be proactive and take charge of their dating life, in a similar way as they do when pursuing their career or other personal interests,” said Dr Matthews.

Singles have since become more open to online dating and dating apps, according to the study (see other story).

As more people go online to find love, industry players say a delicate balance needs to be struck between making sure the mobile app is legitimate and ensuring the safety of the users while not scaring the young off by over-regulation.

“Dating agencies receive some form of regulation via accreditation and our app, LunchClick, is one of the few apps that is accredited as well,” said Ms Violet Lim, chief executive of Lunch Actually Group.

“Others like Tinder or OKCupid are international apps with headquaters based overseas and they are unlikely to apply for accreditation by the government. The danger then is that there may be people other than serious singles there,” she added.

Some singles, such as undergraduate Jiamin Lim, 21, prefer leaving dating to chance as being proactive seems “very forward” and that does not reflect her character.

Student Melissa Mook, 21, also prefers to leave it to chance.

“I think for my age now, it is s still okay to have such a mindset. However, if I am still single a few years down the road, I may adopt a more proactive approach.”

– Additional reporting by Lee Si Xuan

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