Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's marriage really competing with ?

When the government said that they want to have a sustained campaign to promote marriage to younger folks, a lot of folks took the opportunity to start whining about why Singaporeans are choosing to accumulate wealth over settling down.

I don't agree with this line of thought. This light of thought has been used in many scenarios.

Why are Singaporeans rude to each other? Because they are too concerned about money making.
Why are Singaporeans not getting married ? Because they are too concerned about money making.
Why some people are failures can't hold onto decent jobs ? Because other people are too concerned about money making.

I beg to differ about money making because, very often, guys save money in order to settle down and start a family. If marriage gets delayed, it is because we're not saving fast enough.

Wealth reinforces families and makes development possible. Wealth accumulation is not the enemy of family creation - it is an enabler. And vice versa. Married people pool assets creating a portfolio of financial and human capital that is more diversified than that of 2 singles. Marriage raises conscientiousness of males resulting in better overall health, longevity and wealth creation. Children, while a burden when young, provide income smoothing at the late stage of a person's life.

There is enough literature to establish marriage as generally a positive stabilizing influence on personal wealth.

Now let's talk about the real issue of Single-hood.

Marriage has to compete with the one valuable resource singles have can may not be as willing to give up easily - Freedom. Being single is just plain fun !

Many singles make enough to lead decent carefree lives. They can travel anywhere, buy whatever they want. Promote causes that they believe in. That translates to a whole lot of mobility. Generation Y would also not want to be shackled by the norms of Gen X society, they want to carve a set of values for their own.

In this world of readily available sex, tweets and Facebook, I'm betting that it'll be hard to sell the younger folks an ancient institution like marriage.

What price are we putting on their personal freedom ?

This leads to my very dark conclusion for policy makers.

What will happen when the campaign fails ? What will the PAP do ?

I would propose more draconian measures. Let me give you guys a small hint :

Since children produce income smoothing in most cases and function as annuities, CPF Life can be opted out by parents living with their kids.

I'm sure our government can do something along these lines...

Regards

1 comment:

Simeon said...

Hi Christopher,

I am now working overseas and trying to get a set of all your books. Any idea ? I might come back to Singapore later but thanks to let me know where to buy them (as 1 complete set).

Regarding marriage, I have spoken also recently to a well known financial consultant who advise that marriage (a good one) does improve your financial position for obvious reasons. However maybe you can also let us know what is the damage when a marriage break down in Singapore. From my experience it is very painful mentally and financially. Just ask some divorced SG man and read the recently updated The Women's Charter and news from celebrity's divorce. Well, just sharing a thought with you.

Have fun and prosper.