More grandmas means Singapore ‘time bomb’ ticks louder in 2018


  • Economy
  • Thursday, 07 Dec 2017

SINGAPORE: Next year marks an ominous turning point for Singapore’s greying population, according to research by Francis Tan, an economist at United Overseas Bank Ltd in Singapore.

In 2018, the share of the population that’s 65 years and older will match those younger than 15 for the first time, Tan wrote in a report yesterday.

As the elderly population starts to crowd out the youth, the “demographic time bomb” may mean changes to taxes, immigration rules, and social services, he said.

“Singapore is facing one of the toughest economic and social challenges since its independence in the form of a rapidly aging workforce and population,” Tan said.

At this rate, seniors in Singapore’s population will make up more than double the share of the youngest residents in 2030.

Tan uses a compounded annual growth rate rather than adjusting for potential policy changes or alteration of trends such as fertility rates, meaning officials could still help redraw those lines, or at least make them appear less menacing, over the next decade.

With already the oldest population in the Asean, the Singapore of 2030 will probably look a lot like the demographics-embattled Japan of 2016, Tan’s figures show.

That’s all making policy more complicated as the city state seeks to ensure that the elderly population is cared for without curbing the well-being of younger residents.

One way to increase the labour supply would be to ease immigration restrictions, a move that would have to be done at a managed pace to avoid worsening the “foreigner assimilation issue” in Singapore, even though the country can’t afford zero immigration, Tan said. Singapore tightened rules on the hiring of foreigners in the wake of the 2011 election, amid voter discontent over gridlock and competition for employment, property and education. — Bloomberg

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