This multi-ethnic mix was the result of immigration policies during the British colonial era in Singapore. As an important entrepôt of the British empire, it attracted various immigrants, especially from other important Asian markets such as China and India. In recent times, Singapore had successfully managed to turn itself into an important financial and business hub not just in Asia but also globally. Thus, Singapore continues to be an attractive place for immigrants and expats - as of 2018, Singapore’s international non-resident population made up a third of its total population. When taken into consideration the permanent residents, students, and other work permit holders, this share increased to around 40 percent.
Immigration could be seen as a solution to Singapore’s increasing manpower shortage. As its economy further develops and reaches a certain level of sophistication, more qualified labor would be needed to power this growth. However, Singapore is facing the threat of an ageing population compounded further by a low fertility rate. As of 2017, Singapore's total fertility rate was 1.16 children born per woman, one of the lowest in the world, while the median age of its population was projected to be about 42 years in 2020. Already, many senior citizens have found themselves in the position of having to work well into what should be their retirement, in order to support themselves financially. By 2030, the retirement and re-employment age was set to be at 65 years and 70 years respectively.
Singapore’s decreasing birth rate corresponded with a decrease in the general marriage rate. Women especially are delaying marriage and having children in favor of pursuing a career or for personal development. However, despite its liberal economic landscape, Singapore society is still rather conservative, and non-traditional iterations of a family unit are still uncommon and not as widely accepted there. The so-called traditional family unit, consisting of a heterosexual couple and their children, still forms the basis of Singapore society, from whether one qualifies for public housing to social support.