Population: Need 25,000 new citizens?

Posted by on April 30, 2012 

~ By Leong Sze Hian ~

I refer to the occasional paper, Citizen Population Scenarios, published by the National Population and Talent Division, Prime Minister’s Office, in April.


Singapore’s Total Fertility Rate has been declining. At the same time, Singaporeans are living longer. Our life expectancy is currently one of the highest in the world.

At current birth rates and without immigration, our citizen population is projected to shrink by around 2025. By 2020, as more citizens exit the working-age band of 20 to 64 years than those entering, the pool of working-age citizens will start to shrink. Our TFR has been below that needed to replace ourselves2 since 1976. An immigration inflow of between 20K and 25K new citizens each year will keep the citizen population size stable. An inflow of 25K new citizens per year would keep the size of our working-age citizen population relatively stable”

“The shrinking working-age population and increasingly aged population will result in a deterioration of the citizen old-age support ratio. As of June 2011, there were 6.3 citizens in the working-ages of 20-64 years, to every citizen aged 65 years and above. With current fertility and no immigration, there will only be 2.1 workingage citizens to each elderly citizen by 2030 (See Scenario B in Chart 8). Immigration has a mitigating effect on the old-age support ratio”

Would that include just new citizens or PRs as well?

Why is it that the population scenarios are only based on immigration of new citizens? Why not include permanent residents (PRs) as well. Wouldn’t PRs also mitigate our population issues, instead of just relying entirely on new citizens?

I think one perspective of the issue is not so much of new citizens or PRs, but rather the quality of the new citizens or PRs.

In this connection, I once met an elderly cleaner Singapore resident in a food court who told me that his daughter who is also a cleaner obtained residency status because she married a Singaporean, and both he and his wife, who is also a cleaner, were given residency.

Impact of immigration on Singaporeans

We should consider carefully how to balance the need to increase the population, with the impact on citizens, such as the deterioration of the standard of living of more Singaporeans, declining real wages, rising cost of living, etc.?

We also need to re-evaluate the huge sums of money, like scholarships and tuition grants for foreigners, that are expended towards the “new citizens” immigration policy, against the needs and welfare of Singaporeans.

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.