Stretching 42 kilometers from east to west and 23 kilometers north to south, Singapore is a small yet densely populated city-state with a multi-cultural society. As of 2020, Singapore's population was around 5.69 million. Singapore society is categorized into four main ethnic groups, according to the CMIO rubric: Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Others. In the “Other” category are ethnic groups such as the Eurasians, who are a people of mixed European and Asian ancestry. Singapore is also one of the most religiously-diverse societies in the world – the non-profit Inter-religious Organization in Singapore alone officially recognizes ten different religions that are present in the country.
Singapore – a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society
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 2021, Singapore’s international non-resident population made up around 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.
Demographic challenges facing Singapore
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 2019, Singapore's total fertility rate was 1.14 children born per woman, one of the lowest in the world, while the median age of its population was projected to be about 53 years in 2050. 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 widely accepted there. The so-called traditional family unit, consisting of a heterosexual couple and their children, still forms the basis of Singapore society and determines whether one qualifies for public housing and other forms of social support.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 26 most important statistics relating to "Demographics of Singapore".