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ECONOMY, HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Population "time bomb" will begin ticking in 2018

The percentages of senior and junior residents are projected to be equal at 14% next year.

For the first time in Singapore’s modern economic history, 2018 will be the year where the percentage of residents who are seniors will be equal to that of juniors at 14%, UOB revealed.

According to a macro note, UOB projects that by 2030, the percentage of seniors will increase to 27.0%, whilst that of juniors will decline to 10.8%.

"The longer run implication is that there will not be enough young residents to replace older ones, especially in the workforce, and that 2030 is only a short 12 years away from next year," UOB economist Francis Tan said.

He added that in 2030, Singapore could face the same demographic issue as Japan's.

Oxford estimated that Singapore’s labour supply growth will shrink by 1.7 ppt in the 10 years through 2026 and by 2.5% points in the decade after that.

Moreover, Singapore is the oldest society in ASEAN, with the median age of the resident population at 40.5 years as of 2017, whereas that for ASEAN is only expected to be 29.8 years in 2020.

"At this stage, the sense of worry would have multiplied. However, the demographic time bomb only starts ticking in 2018," Tan said.

According to UOB, there are a total of 560 females and 151 males above the age of 100 as of 2017. In 2050, the number would have ballooned to 9064 females and 3045 males.

This implies that the stress of supporting the ageing population falling onto the laps of the working population in Singapore is more than most of other ASEAN economies.

Here's more from UOB:

In April 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a warning that “parts of Asia will grow old before getting rich”.

In the report, the IMF highlighted that Asia’s rapidly ageing population means the region is shifting from being the biggest contributor to the global workforce to subtracting hundreds of millions of people from it.

The reversal of the so-called “demographic dividend” will drag on global growth and also that in Asia, the world’s fastest growing region. The IMF also estimated that Asia’s population growth rate will fall to zero by 2050, and the share of the population who are working-age has already hit its peak, the IMF estimates.

That means the ratio of the population aged 65 and older will be almost two and a half times the current level by 2050 and even higher in East Asia.

Singapore is lucky in some sense – that she has reached an enviable developed economy status with high per capita income. However, for a country like Thailand, or even China, it remains to be seen how the economy will restructure/reinvent to push for higher income before they get old. 

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