Paper outlining five population scenarios released

Tan Weizhen Today Online 24 Apr 12;

SINGAPORE - As Singapore marks a "demographic turning point" this year, where the Republic's first cohort of baby boomers turns 65, a paper has been released by the Government projecting that an intake of about 20,000 to 25,000 new citizens each year would keep the citizen population size stable.

This is assuming that future demographic trends prevail, said National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), releasing the paper today.

In one of five scenarios that NPTD put out with varying intakes of new citizens, if Singapore's total fertility rate (TFR) stays at 1.2 births per female and there are no new citizens, Singapore's native population will shrink around 2025.

Under this scenario, there will only be 2.1 working-age citizens to each elderly citizen by 2030, and citizen deaths will exceed births in 13 years, the paper said.

Between now and 2030, over 900,000 baby boomers will retire from the workforce.

The NPTD said it will be involving the public in a 'national conversation' centering around topics related to this paper, following focus groups.

The paper can be accessed at

Immigration can mitigate rate at which citizen population ages: report
Imelda Saad Channel NewsAsia 24 Apr 12;

SINGAPORE: Singapore needs to continue attracting immigrants to slow down the decline and ageing of its citizen population, according to a paper released by the National Population and Talent Division.

It says that if the country's Total Fertility Rate remains the same, Singapore will need an immigration inflow of between 20,000 and 25,000 new citizens each year to keep the citizen population size stable.

This is one of the five population scenarios set out by the paper.

The scenarios are not predictions or forecasts, but illustrations of the growth and change in population that will occur if certain assumptions about future demographics trends prevail over a projected period.

Singapore's TFR now stands at 1.2, well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

This year has been described as a "demographic turning point", when the first cohort of post-war Baby Boomers born between 1947 and 1965 start turning 65 years of age.

Without immigration, the paper says citizen deaths will exceed births in 13 years.

By 2025, the population will also start to age and shrink, with the median age being 45 - up from the current 39 years.

The citizen workforce will also start to shrink with fewer working-age citizens supporting each elderly citizen.

The paper projects that the trend will be mitigated somewhat with immigration.

It says immigration will help to slow down the decline in the pool of working-age citizens and slow down the rate of ageing among the population.

Taking in 20,000-25,000 new citizens each year will also bump up the citizen old-age support ratio slightly from 2.1 to 2.4 working citizens for every elderly citizen, in 2030.

The paper will form the basis of discussions among focus groups and the public for a White Paper to be released by the National Population and Talent Division by the end of the year.

The White Paper will set out issues important to Singaporeans and strategies for a sustainable population. It will cover things like land use and infrastructure planning.

The public consultation for this is expected to start in the middle of the year.

- CNA/cc

Population will shrink from 2025 without new citizens
Pool of working age citizens will also drop steadily from 2.1m today
Phua Mei Pin Straits Times 25 Apr 12;

SINGAPORE needs 20,000 to 25,000 new citizens each year to prevent a decline in its citizen population from 2025, new government projections show.

That assumes no big uptick in the number of Singaporean babies born here. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is now 1.2, one of the lowest in the world.

If it stays put, and the door to new migrants is shut from this year, the citizen population will start shrinking in 13 years' time.

The pool of working age citizens will also drop steadily from today's 2.1 million to about 1.5 million in 2060.

These are some of the five scenarios in a paper that the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) released yesterday.

As the lead agency for the Government on population matters, it is conducting a comprehensive examination of population goals and policies, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced during the Budget debate.

The NPTD is releasing information to spur study and discussion in the lead-up to a White Paper on population matters, due by the year end.

It has launched focus group discussions with different segments of the community. From the middle of the year, it will engage the public through various avenues, including dialogues and online channels, to discuss population issues holistically.

'Through this process, we hope to bring to light issues that are important to Singapore and Singaporeans, and develop a shared understanding of our strategies to build a sustainable population that secures Singapore's future,' it told The Straits Times via e-mail.

The five scenarios drawn up by NPTD, using data from the Department of Statistics, are based on the following assumptions:

TFR rises to 2.1

TFR stays at 1.2 and the number of new citizens each year is zero, 15,000, 20,000 or 25,000.

A comparison shows that only with an annual injection of 20,000 to 25,000 new citizens a year can the citizen population size be kept at a constant level of four million. In all other scenarios, the total number of citizens will dwindle.

From 2007 to 2010, Singapore's intake of new citizens ranged from over 17,334 to 20,513. Last year saw 15,777 additions to the citizen population.

A key point from the paper is that, regardless of which scenario comes to pass, Singapore's citizen population will continue to age. In the best-case scenario, median age rises from 39 in 2011 to 42 in 2060. In the worst case, it jumps to as high as 55.

From now to 2030, Singapore will also see 'an unprecedented age shift, as over 900,000 baby boomers will retire from the workforce and enter their silver years', NPTD said in the paper.

Commenting on NPTD's scenarios yesterday, Associate Professor Kalyani Mehta, the head of SIM University's programme for gerontology, pointed to the Retirement and Re-employment Act as a measure that can impact the size of the working population.

'It remains to be seen how much we can improve our labour force productivity. Getting people such as housewives back into the workforce is another strategy that has to be factored in.'

Demographer Gavin Jones noted the paper's silence on the future permanent resident population.

'To become a citizen, you pass through a process of being a PR first. New citizens are drawn from that pool and you do need to look at that aspect,' he said.

Last September, the Institute of Policy Studies drew up 48 scenarios on the resident population, which includes citizens and permanent residents.

Its conclusion: If net migration was zero, the resident population would start bottoming out in 2025, dropping to three million by 2050.

Yesterday, the NPTD also stressed that the Government takes care to accept immigrants who are able to integrate well into Singapore society.

From 2001 to 2010, 49 per cent of new citizens were from South-east Asia, 42 per cent from other parts of Asia and the remaining 9 per cent from other parts of the world.

From 2005 to 2010, about 55 per cent of new citizens were aged 30 or younger.

Members of the public may access the paper and give their comments at