The long-anticipated ‘Population in Brief 2023’ by the collaboration with various Singapore government authroities has been released, presenting an overview of key data and updates on Singapore’s population trends. This article explores the report’s key findings, offering a more in-depth look at Singapore’s changing demographics as of June 2023.
As of June 2023, Singapore’s population was characterised by 3.61 million Singapore Citizens (SCs) and 0.54 million Permanent Residents (PRs), collectively totalling 4.15 million residents. In addition to these residents, Singapore also comprises 1.77 million non-residents (NRs), encompassing foreign workers under various pass categories, dependents, and international students. The overall population of Singapore, a dynamic blend of residents and non-residents, reached 5.92 million in June 2023.
The populations of citizens and permanent residents (PRs) saw a growth of 1.6% (from 3.55 million to 3.61 million) and 3.7% (from 0.52 million to 0.54 million) respectively from June 2022 to June 2023. The relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions played a significant role in this increase, as a larger number of citizens and PRs residing overseas returned to Singapore, contributing significantly to the rise in both populations.
As of June 2023, the non-resident population reached 1.77 million, marking a substantial increase of 13.1% compared to June 2022. This rise was primarily attributed to the notable growth in foreign employment across various sectors in Singapore during the period from June 2022 to June 2023 (as depicted in Chart 2). The surge was observed across all pass categories, with the most significant increase noted among Work Permit Holders in sectors such as Construction, Marine Shipyard, and Process. This was a response to contractors ramping up their workforce to make up for project delays caused by the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the remaining uptick in foreign employment was distributed across diverse sectors, as businesses sought to fill positions left vacant by non-resident individuals during the pandemic.
In June 2023, Singapore’s total population reached 5.92 million, indicating a substantial 5.0% increase compared to June 2022. Considering the population decline during 2020 and 2021 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the average growth rate in the total population over the past five years closely mirrors that of the preceding five-year period.
Immigration plays a crucial role in mitigating the impact of aging demographics and low birth rates on our citizen population, preventing a decline over the long run. Singapore carefully regulates the intake of Permanent Residents (PRs) and new citizens annually. The grant of new citizenship is reserved for individuals capable of integrating into Singapore society, making meaningful contributions, and demonstrating a genuine commitment to making Singapore their permanent home. New citizens typically have family ties with Singaporeans, such as through marriage, or they have a history of studying, working, or residing in Singapore.
All new adult citizens stem from the pool of PRs, as individuals need to attain permanent residency for at least 2 years before applying for citizenship in Singapore. The limited number of new citizens who were not PRs before obtaining citizenship usually comprises minors. They are either children of citizens, including those born overseas to Singaporean parents, or children of PRs who were included as dependents in their parents’ citizenship application. Singapore has maintained a stable PR population size of approximately half a million, and a significant portion of PRs fall within the age range of 25-59 years.
The pace of immigration has remained consistent and well-regulated. In 2022, Singapore granted citizenship to 23,082 individuals and permanent residency (PR) to 34,493 individuals. These numbers were slightly higher than those in 2019 (pre-COVID). Challenges posed by travel restrictions and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic led to delays in in-person processes for the grant of citizenship or PR for several approved applicants in 2020 and 2021. However, they successfully completed the necessary procedures in 2022, contributing to the increased grant numbers.
Of the new Singapore Citizens (SCs) in 2022, approximately 5.5% (1,280 individuals) were classified as “citizens by descent,” representing children born overseas to Singaporean parents.
Below is the graphical representation depicting the profile of PRs and SCs granted in 2022, segmented by age, qualifications, and origins.
The percentage of our citizen population aged 65 years and older is increasing at an accelerated rate, surpassing the pace of the previous decade. Significant cohorts of “baby boomers” have started transitioning into the post-65 age group.
“Baby boomers” are individuals born between 1946 and 1964. Consequently, in 2013, they would be between the ages of 49 and 67, and in 2023, they would range from 59 to 77 years old.
In line with our aging population, the median age of the citizen population increased from 42.8 years to 43.0 years between June 2022 and 2023.
At present, 61.0% of citizens fall within the 20-64 age bracket, showcasing a decrease from 64.9% in 2013. Conversely, the percentage of citizens aged 65 and above has risen from 11.7% in 2013 to 19.1% in 2023. Looking ahead to 2030, approximately 1 in 4 citizens (24.1%) will be aged 65 and above.
The count of citizens aged 80 and above has surged by approximately 70%, rising from 80,000 in 2013 to 136,000 in 2023.
In 2022, there were 30,429 citizen births, which marked a decrease compared to the 31,713 citizen births in 2021. Moreover, the average number of annual births in the past five years (31,800) was also slightly lower than in the preceding five years (32,700). The median age of citizen mothers at their first birth rose to 31.3 years in 2022, up from 30.1 years in 2012.
In summary, the release of the ‘Population in Brief 2023’ report, in collaboration with various Singapore government authorities, has illuminated the dynamic shifts in Singapore’s demographics as of June 2023. The population reached 5.92 million, reflecting notable growth primarily attributed to the relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) saw steady growth, driven by the return of those residing overseas, showcasing the resilience of the nation in the face of the pandemic. The non-resident population also surged significantly, especially in sectors like construction and shipyard, as businesses addressed project delays incurred during the pandemic.
Immigration continues to play a pivotal role in maintaining a robust citizen population, with new citizens often stemming from the pool of PRs. The well-regulated pace of immigration remained consistent, even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Singapore grapples with an ageing population, the report highlights the acceleration of this trend, with ‘baby boomers’ transitioning into the post-65 age group. The percentage of citizens aged 65 and above continues to rise, requiring careful planning to address the changing demographics.
Parenthood patterns have evolved, leading to a decrease in citizen births in 2022, along with a shift in the age of first-time mothers.
Overall, this report offers a comprehensive understanding of Singapore’s demographic landscape, emphasising the need for adaptability and forward-thinking policies to navigate these evolving demographic changes in the years to come.
**For further information and detailed resources on Singapore’s population and related matters, please refer to the following official websites:
National Population and Talent Division, Strategy Group: www.population.gov.sg
Singapore Department of Statistics: www.singstat.gov.sg
Ministry of Home Affairs: www.mha.gov.sg
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority: www.ica.gov.sg
Ministry of Manpower: www.mom.gov.sg
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