Drop in Brunei’s total fertility rate

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam’s total fertility rate (TFR) is the third lowest after Singapore and Thailand in this region, according to a report by the World Bank.

Total fertility rate dropped to 1.7 per cent per woman in 2018 compared to 1.8 per cent in 2017, 2016 and 2015. Eight years ago (2012), it was 1.907 per cent.

TFR is the average number of babies born per woman throughout her reproductive life.

As more Bruneian women join the workforce, the number of children likely to be born decreases, local experts said.

They said the low fertility rate is mainly due to couples marrying late in life, and the rising cost of living, especially when it comes to the cost of raising children.

But the desire for children is still high across generations.

Traditional family values on marriage, elder-care, and children among Bruneians across generations are still relatively intact and strong.

Bruneians generally want to get married, have strong feelings of responsibility towards taking care of elders, and believe that having children is a positive thing.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) indicated that 6,199 live births were recorded two years ago (2018) mostly in the Brunei-Muara District with 5,218 births (2,709 male and 2,509 female) down from 5,440 in 2017; 5,349 in 2016 and 5,446 births in 2015.

The second highest was Belait with 902 births in 2018, 963 (2017), 894 in 2016 and 1031 in 2015. Tutong recorded 68 registered live births in 2018, 28 (2017), 164 (2016) and 197 in 2015. Temburong had the smallest with 11 live births in 2018, 21 (2017), 30 (2016) and 25 (2015).

On the contrary, birth rate throughout the Sultanate in 2017 was 6,452, 6,437 in 2016 and 6,699 in 2015. Gross rate of births in 2018 for every 1,000 population was 14 per cent in 2018 compared to 15 per cent in 2017; 15.4 per cent in 2016 and 16.2 in 2015.

Mothers aged 30-34 constituted the highest with 1,968 births in 2018, compared to 1,913 for mothers aged 25-29 and 1,086 births for mothers aged 35-39. First child born recorded the highest with 1,818 births, followed by second child with 1,590 and third child with 1,191.