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(Photo: Complete Me) The key is therefore to ensure that singles buy-in to the idea of such activities and do not see involvement in these activities as a social stigma.

One approach to this is through public education and advertising, to shift mindsets and normalise the search for a life partner, even before people hit the eligibility age of 20.

However, my personal view is that the social development programmes has not been as ineffective as most pessimists might think.

While the female labour force participation rate in 1980 was only 44.3 per cent, this figure had grown to 60.4 per cent by 2016.To evaluate whether the SDU had been effective, we would also need to know the counterfactual – that is, what Singapore’s singlehood rates would have been in the years after 1984, had there been no SDU.SINGAPORE: Last month, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) released Singapore’s annual Population in Brief report.The report showed that the proportion of singles in most age groups had gone up, with the biggest increase among Singaporean women aged 25 to 29.Local dating agency Complete Me held a mass dating event for 126 singles at the York Hotel on Dec 14 last year.

The event created a record in the Singapore Book of Records for the Largest Gokon Gathering.This increase may have been due to other factors such as a greater proportion of women entering the labour market, resulting in more time spent among women at work and less time spent on dating activities.Indeed, data shows that female participation in the labour market has been on the rise.But not everyone eligible for the SDN programme is making use of it.Part of the reason might be the social stigma involved in participation.Though some of its functions have evolved over the years, its primary objective remains to foster interaction and relationship skills among singles to improve the nation’s marriage and birth rates.