The air pollution from forest fires in Indonesia may be trailing off, but months of being cooped up inside might give Singaporeans something that outlives the haze: a new baby.
Analysts have long pointed to small baby booms nine months after severe weather or blackouts in the U.S. and although Indonesia's forest fires are an annual event, this year, the air pollution, colloquially called "the haze," has been particularly severe and long-lived due to an El Nino weather system causing less rain.
Singapore's air quality began to worsen in August, first entering unhealthy levels in September and remaining there through much of October, although breathing in November has become a less gritty experience. Escaping the haze meant staying indoors.
"Keeping people indoors certainly would be a conducive environment as far as babies are concerned," Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking, said in a phone interview. "We'll wait and see."
There could be an additional fillip: Travel out of Singapore got a big boost during the haze period. Travel search website Skyscanner said that searches for outbound travel from Singapore climbed gradually from September 4 - when the city-state's air quality levels started approaching an unhealthy level - and by October 23 were more than 50 percent higher.