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Asean Affairs    8  September  2011

Singapore faces challenges of other economies

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     8  September 2011

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A landmark study on future population growth and change for Singapore published on Wednesday by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) reveals that Asean’s most advanced economy is facing a similar dilemma as other larger economies, including China.

An aging population and lower birth rate are putting Singapore’s economic future at risk.

The study produced four population scenarios based on varying Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and immigration levels.

The study said with TFR at 1.24 births per woman and zero net migration, Singapore's population will decline to 3.03 million in 2050.

With 30,000 migrants added annually, the population projection is 4.89 million in 2050.

And with 60,000 migrants added annually, the population projection is 6.76 million in 2050.

The study also looked at a situation where TFR can be raised to 1.85 births per woman by 2025 with no new immigration. With such a scenario, the study said population size can still only hit 3.37 million in 2050.

The ratio of working people (between the ages of 15-64) to the elderly will also decrease. For instance, with low fertility and 30,000 new residents a year, the ratio drops from 8.6 in 2005, to 2.7 in 2050.

The study also projected that there will be fewer young people in Singapore if fertility rate remains low. The number of young people under 14 years of age will go down by more than half from 699,000 in 2005 to 274,400 by 2050.

Singapore finds it self in the same situation as other even larger economies, such as China, the United States and other western economies with aging populations.

The United States has countered its lower birth rate by allowing in more immigrants and by 2050 its population is expected to be around 300 million, about the same as it is now: 308,745,538.

Associate Professor Paulin-Tay Straughan from the National University of Singapore said it is important for the government to determine how much population growth is needed to ensure a balance between a vibrant economy and the social health of society.

The latter is something all economies have to face and it will be important to see what solution Singapore devises.


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