Especially not FTs like Hui Hui.
Government figures released by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD — the same people who came up with the population White Paper that was rubbished by scholars) last Thursday show that the total population grew at its slowest pace in 10 years, expanding just 1.3% to 5.47m as of June this year and generally painted a picture of doom and gloom.with have negative repercussions on the economy.
But according to the unhelpful, not constructive BT (26 September), * some economists say the situation may not be as dire as generally predicted, since more older citizens are opting to work past retirement age.
Said UOB economist Francis Tan: “The support ratio worsening is just one side of things. Other factors are also at play here: the government is incentivising older workers to stay employed; people are questioning whether their retirement savings are enough so they’re continuing to work; the government’s foreign worker quotas are forcing companies to provide higher wages and that has enticed more elderly people at the margins to join the job market.
“Taken together, these conditions should make us less worried about this scary 5.2 old-age support ratio. I’m not saying the downward trend is not a concern, but I think we can’t look at population numbers purely on their own – we need to look at labour market trends too.”
Indeed, according to figures from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the total labour force participation rate of residents aged 65-69 have increased dramatically from a decade ago. While this stood at 19.5 per cent in 2003, it climbed to 27.5 per cent five years later in 2008, before spiking up to 40.2 per cent in 2013.
After all despite or because of the tight labour market, MOM said in January this year that the labour force participation rate rose to a new high in 2013, driven by women and older residents, BT pointed out.
Noted OCBC economist Selena Ling: “If the retirement age changes to 67, that will skew the ratio for sure as more elderly (persons) rejoin the workforce. Then the reality may not be as bad as what the (population) numbers suggest.”
Whatever it is Mr Tan, Ms Ling, and other economists are concerned about the nation’s lacklustre fertility rate and swiftly ageing population.
Said DBS economist Irvin Seah: “This demographic shift is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Singapore… The situation isn’t easy to reverse, and it will take more than conventional economic policy to resolve. Mindsets will have to change.”
On this they are right