More care for the elderly in city-state as population ages rapidly

THE city-state’s population is ageing rapidly, with the proportion of citizens aged 65 and above increasing to 18.4% in 2022.

This is a spike from 11.1% in 2012, said the annual Population In Brief report released yesterday. It was 17.6% in 2021.

By 2030, around one in four citizens, or 23.8%, will be aged 65 and above.

The report by the National Population and Talent Division provides an update on Singapore’s key population trends over the past year.

The median age of the citizen population rose from 42.5 years to 42.8 years between June 2021 and June 2022.

Meanwhile, the number of citizens aged 80 and above has increased by more than 70% from 2012 to 132,000. They now make up 3.7% of the population.

Similar ageing trends are seen in other Asian societies such as Japan and South Korea, which also face low fertility rates.

In 2020, the proportion of Singapore’s population aged 65 and above was 17%, similar to the South Korean population’s 16%, but lower than that of the Japanese population at 29%.

The ageing trend has been highlighted by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in his Budget speech in February.

He said that healthcare will account for the bulk of increases in government social spending by 2030 as Singapore’s population ages.

At his National Day Rally speech in August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the impending goods and services tax (GST) increase is necessary as Singapore’s population is ageing rapidly.

Singapore must be prepared to take better care of the elderly, including providing more medication subsidies to reduce the burden of healthcare costs on older Singaporeans and their families, he said.

All these mean that Singapore’s healthcare and social spending is increasing sharply, Lee added.

The additional tax collected will also be needed to fund more hospitals, polyclinics and other facilities so that the elderly can access medical services, he said.

As a small city-state that relies on people as its key resource, the ageing trend and its implications will hit Singapore even more acutely, the population report said.

To address this core demographic challenge, Singapore must continue to support marriage and parenthood, it added.

While the government has a suite of measures to support Singaporeans in starting and raising families, employers, community partners and individuals can all do their part to create a stronger family-friendly support ecosystem.

This can range from workplaces that promote work-life harmony to community groups that work with the government to care for families with more complex needs, the report also said. — The Straits Times/ANN

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