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5.5m population more achievable for Singapore

THE 6.5 million population used as a guide for planning purposes in Singapore is not within reach in the next 50 years, an academic said yesterday. Saw Swee Hock of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies said 5.5 million is a more achievable target.

Prof Saw – the second Singaporean after former deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee to be elected an honorary fellow of the London School of Economics – was speaking at the soft launch of the second edition of his book The Population of Singapore.

His comments are consistent with those of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who indicated in August that Singapore’s population is unlikely to touch 6.5 million.

Prof Saw said yesterday that for the population to hit 6.5 million by 2050, Singapore needs an influx of 1.85 million newcomers after 2015, assuming the non-resident population rises from 0.8 million in 2005 to 1.01 million in 2015.

The proportion of newcomers arriving after 2015 would constitute 40.5 per cent of the total population in 2050 – the highest ever.

But for the population to hit 5.5 million in 2050, the number of newcomers entering Singapore after 2015 would be 1.63 million and they would make up a smaller 29.6 per cent of the population.

‘The 5.5 million target is not only more achievable viewed in terms of the type of newcomers we want, but also more conducive to the maintenance of a harmonious multiracial society,’ Prof Saw says in his book.

The figures were generated assuming the total fertility rate stays constant at 1.31, which will result in the resident population growing from 3.55 million in 2005 to a peak of 3.64 million in 2015, before shrinking steadily.

The challenge, said Prof Saw, is to get newcomers to stay to make up for the declining resident population.

Alongside a contracting resident population, the resident labour force is estimated to decline from 1.74 million in 2005 to 1.15 million in 2050.

Workers aged 60 and over are projected to make up 13.6 per cent of the workforce in 2050, up from 4.4 per cent in 2005. And workers aged 30-39 are expected to account only for 19.3 per cent of the work force in 2050, down from 28.7 per cent in 2005.


Source: Business Times 20 Oct 07

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