Census 2020: Key Trends in a Changing Singapore and What They Mean, Singapore News & Top Stories

Aging population, money opportunity?

In a trend reflecting profound changes in attitudes towards marriage and parenthood, fewer Singaporeans are getting married and having children than they were 10 years ago, with young Singaporeans more likely to remain single.

They are also aging, and the country is experiencing its decade of slowest population growth since independence.

The census – carried out every 10 years – interviewed 150,000 households last year for its latest iteration.

This is the largest national survey undertaken here on key characteristics of the population, including demographic, social, economic, employment, housing, transport and education data.

What are the implications of these changes? What are the challenges for the economy and society?


Life as a single person (and without a baby)

Celibacy and childlessness are trends that were set in motion decades ago. The proportion of single people has increased in all age groups over the past 10 years, with the largest increase among young residents aged 25 to 34.

The previous decade also saw a similar increase in most age groups.

Celibacy continues to be most prevalent among men with less than high school education and female graduates.


Helping women progress at work

Women have made progress in the workplace.

The share of married couples living with a working woman rose from 52.9 percent in 2010 to 60 percent last year.

The proportion where only the husband was employed rose from 32.6 per cent to 24.9 per cent.

The largest combination – 52.5% – among resident married couples was the dual career, where both work. This figure rose from 47.1 percent in the last census, 10 years ago.


More people have no religion

A growing proportion of Singaporeans have no religion. Last year, they represented one-fifth of residents aged 15 and over, an increase from 17% in 2010 and 15% in 2000.

The increase occurred in all age groups and in most types of degrees. But it was more prevalent among more educated, younger and Chinese residents.


Education and language changes on the horizon

Singapore residents achieve higher academic qualifications, especially college degrees. More can read and write in multiple languages, and more speak English at home.

But there are downsides such as an oversupply of graduates, underemployment and the potential erosion of native language heritage, experts tell Insight. And interventions are needed to bridge the gaps between ethnic groups, they say.

The 2020 census showed increasing proportions of people aged 25 and over achieving at least post-secondary qualifications.


Higher incomes, but beware of the gap between employment and wealth

In 2000, the largest proportion of resident households – 28.5 percent – were in the $ 1,000 to $ 2,999 range of monthly labor income. Ten years later, those were making between $ 3,000 and $ 4,999, at 16.2%.

In the 2020 census, the largest share – 13.9% – was in the top $ 20,000 and over bracket. At the other end of the spectrum, a significant proportion (12.2%) earned no more than $ 3,000 per month.

What appears to be a case of growing inequality has more to do with issues of job polarization and the division of wealth, economists and sociologists explain.

Census reports released this week indicate that Singapore residents are now earning more and in higher income brackets.


Strata titles and stratification

Smaller households – in terms of fewer members – are on the increase. More stay in condominiums; although for private properties in general, great variations continue to exist between ethnic groups.

These 2020 Census results raise key questions about stratification, representation and social cohesion, experts say.

The proportion of one-person households has almost doubled, from 8.2 percent in 2000 to 16 percent last year. The share of households with no family nucleus also increased from 12.4% to 22% over the same period.

Observers say this may be explained by factors such as low birth rates, acceptance of non-traditional family arrangements when it comes to moving and marrying, greater financial independence and possibly even be personal preferences.


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