THERE were 42,663 babies born in Singapore last year, but only half of them had parents who were both Singapore citizens.
Their proportion of all births shrank sharply from 2000.
The rest were born to citizens with foreign spouses, or foreign couples.
And this group swelled considerably from before.
It is a significant demographic shift, experts say, with implications for what it means to be Singaporean and how to integrate foreigners who are here to stay.
The data on parents' nationality appears in the Report on Registration of Births and Deaths 2012, published by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) this month.
A comparison of birth statistics for 2000 and 2012, both auspicious Dragon Years in the Chinese zodiac, shows:
A sharp decline in the number of babies with parents who are both Singaporean – 22,650 (53.1% of all babies) last year, down from 31,308 (66.6%).
Slightly more babies born to Singaporeans and their foreign spouses – 10,588 (24.8%) last year, up from 10,309 (21.9%).
The number of babies born to parents who are both foreigners has nearly doubled – 9,425 (22.1%) last year, from 5,380 (11.4%).
Sociologists and demographers say the shift comes as fewer Singaporeans are marrying and having babies and more marry foreigners.
Meanwhile, the number of permanent residents (PRs) and non-residents such as foreign workers doubled from one million in 2000 to two million last year and this explains the sharp rise in the number of babies born to foreigners here.
Demographer Gavin Jones noted that the ICA statistics shed some light on immigration patterns, giving a rare breakdown of data by nationality.
For instance, the statistics suggest a significant presence of newcomers from Asean countries, China and India.
Babies born to couples from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, for example, formed 4.5% of babies born last year – more than triple the 1.3% in 2000.
According to the Census 2010, the Indian and Others minorities in the resident population grew over the previous decade, while the proportion of Chinese and Malays shrank.
How many of the babies with a foreign parent will stay for the long haul is a question to ponder, said sociologist Paulin Straughan.
This can affect population size, especially given the baby shortage and ageing population here.
"This is a wake-up call that policies must evolve with the demographic shift," she said. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
THE Catholic Church in Singapore has hailed the appointment of former foreign minister George Yeo to a special Vatican commission set up by Pope Francis I.
Archbishop William Goh said the Church will give him all the support it can as Yeo, the only Asian member in the eight-member committee, carries out his responsibilities for the Vatican.
The move is part of an effort by Pope Francis to clean up the scandal-hit institution he inherited from his predecessor Benedict XVI.
"We are pleased that Yeo has accepted this heavy responsibility and we have every confidence that he will make invaluable contributions to the Church through his work in this commission and do us proud," said Archbishop Goh.
When contacted, Yeo declined to be interviewed and would only say that it is a "heavy responsibility".
Archbishop Goh said that Yeo is the best man for the job because of his experience and exposure to various economic, administrative and political challenges, both locally and internationally.
The commission members – also from Spain, Germany, France, Malta and Italy – are experts in fields such as economics, finance and law.
Archbishop Goh said Mr Yeo's knowledge in corporate governance and financial affairs, among other fields, will "value-add significantly to the commission's deliberations".
"(These qualities) are what we believe the Vatican will need in this task of reforming the Church's administrative and economic structures," he added.
The Pope has tasked the commission to overhaul the structure of the Vatican after the Church struggled with a series of issues.
The committee, which includes seven lay members and one cleric, will have the right to examine any paper and digital document in the Vatican. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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