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Singapore in Numbers - The aged (aged 65 and above)

Singapore's ageing population is well documented, by media, thought leaders and the government. But this is not unique to Singapore, in fact many developed nations face similar issues. Largely due to falling fertility rates accompanied by longer life expectancy. As in typical Singapore fashion of overachiveing, Singapore boasts one of the lowest fertility rates and longest life expectancies in the world (According to the UN, Singapore is among the top 5 among life expectancy and the bottom 5 among fertility rates in the world).

While this is all good to know, it is not enough. In this segment, FYT hopes to shed more quantifiable light on the the issue. As of the previous 2015 Singapore population census, those aged 65 and above made up 12% of the resident population; as of the most recent 2020 Singapore population census, this rose to 15% or about 612,000. Most (53%) of those aged above 65 are female (Men are known to have a shorter life expectancy than women). But what else do we know about the aged in Singapore?

  • The largest number of residents aged 65 and above reside in Bedok North (16,700) and Tampines East (20,180)

  • Residents aged 65 and abobve make up about 18-37% of residents in most of the older subzones. While subzones in the north and northeast tend to have lower percentages of residents aged 65 and above

  • About 35% of residents aged 65 and above have no education qualifications; this is more pronounced as residents are older and females in this group also tend to have less educational qualifications

Residents aged 65 and above help build the Singapore that we know today, they were there when it was still a British colony, they witnessed Singapore's indepence, built the vision of Singapore's leaders of the day; much of what Singapore is today can be traced to the blood, sweat and tears of this generation. They didn't much of an education back then, they could live off the sweat off their brow and the skills of their hands. However, the Singapore of today is very different; we are a knowledge economy requiring many years and dollars of education to make a decent living. As Singapore's cost of living rises alongside life expectancy, residents aged 65 and above have to continue to find ways to make a living in their twilight years to make ends meet. Did you know...

  • About 30% or 429,000 of residents aged 65 and above are still in the labour force; of which, 1.47% (9,000) are unemployed and are looking for work

  • Most residents aged 65 and above are in the following sectors; Wholesale & Retail trade (18%) and Administrative & Support services (15%)

  • Most residents aged 65 and above are in Cleaners, Labourers and related jobs (29%) and Sales/Service Roles (18%)

    • With regard to the Clearners, labourers and related jobs among residents aged 65 and over, 40% of the resident working population are female. Bearing in mind that 20 years ago, 60-70% of female residents aged 65 and above were in this occupation group

    • It turns out that majority (30%) of male residents aged 65 and above are in the service & sales occupation group.

As Singapore progresses in this decade and many thereafter, her residents will age in increasing numbers. But subsequent generations are better educated, more prosperous, have better healthcare and access to more retirement planning tools; they are much better prepared to weather the challenges of ageing. But we should not forget the generation that built Singapore who are now caught out, partially as a result of Singapore's meteoric economic progress. FYT hopes that some of these insights can help guide targeted policies to help this group age and retire gracefully.

All of the data behind the insights and observations are obtained from the Department of Statistics. For more information about any of the above observations, simply click on any chart and it will take you to the relevant interactive data visualization and you can explore for yourself.

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