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Singapore in Numbers - Pivotal Population Insights

FYT has published 5 articles in our series on the 2020 Population Census; each article focuses on specific themes and draws out interesting observations for our readers to consider. These include:

  • Population size and composition

  • Age and race

  • Marriage

  • Fertility

  • Education

In this segment, FYT would like to take this opportunity to illustrate another crucial tool in the analytics toolkit; the MECE framework. MECE or Mutually Exclusive Completely Exhaustive refers to the method of breaking down a complex problem into smaller manageable parts to facilitate initial progress; and reassembling the insights from the smaller parts to connect the dots to find pivotal insights that were not accessible before.

To illustrate this concept, let us consider the insights from the 5 prior segments as component parts of Singapore's population trends;

  • Population size and composition

    • Even as Singapore's population grew (1.1% CAGR) the proportion of residents fell to 61% from 63% over the last decade

  • Age, race & gender

    • The ethnic composition among residents has remained consistent over the last decade

    • However, old age dependency has grown quite significantly; from 13.5 to 23.4

    • Old age dependency among the Chinese (26) is almost twice that of Indians and Malays (15)

    • Female form the slight majority among residents; but this is more pronounced among the ethnic Chinese where females make up 53%.

  • Marriage

    • Growing trend of marriages later in life; by age 40-49, 85% are usually married

    • Data suggests that education could be contributing factor

      • The percentage of university educated females remained high through their 40s

      • The percentage of males with below secondary education remained high through their 40s

  • Fertility

    • Singapore's total fertility rate fell below replacement since 1976 and never recovered

    • The fertility rates of ALL ethnic groups have been below replacement since 2003

    • However, 62% of ever married women aged 40-49 have 2 or more children

  • Education

    • Each generation is increasingly more educated than the last; 58% of those aged 30-34 have university qualifications

    • Traditionally, there have been more university educated males than females for those aged 40 and above

    • For those aged 39 and below, there are now more university educated females

These themes were not selected by accident; they are connected in many ways. Based on the above insights, FYT will attempt to connect the dots to reveal Singapore's population future:

  • Singapore's fertility rate is not likely to ever recover

    • The percentage of singles is likely to increase

      • As women make the majority of university educated residents, they are more and more likely to remain single; and less educated males will similarly remain single as well.

      • And those that do get married are likely to do it later and later in life

      • Given the falling ratio of males to females among the ethnic Chinese, we are likely to see more interracial marriages.

    • This will in turn drive fertility lower still

      • While those that do get married tend to replace themselves; however as people get married later, the likelihood of replacement falls

      • But the number of children born is not likely to reach replacement for any race

  • Singapore ageing population will only get older

    • Singapore already has one of the longest life expectancies in the world and is likely to remain that way

    • The low fertility rates will only exacerbate the ageing population; and this will be impact the Chinese community much more than other ethic groups

  • Singapore will have to rely on immigration to keep the country going; which is not as outlandish since almost all of the existing citizens were immigrants only 56 years ago

What do you think of our observations of Singapore's population future? Let us know.

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