Managing the Challenges of an Ageing Society

Singapore has undergone a rapid demographic transition, from the high birth and death rates of the post Second World War years to our current low birth and death rates. Population policies have played and will continue to play a central role in the country's development strategies, balancing the economy's needs for workers with the management and integration of foreigners.

This research programme analyses the social and economic impact of Singapore's ageing society, ultra-low fertility, longer life and health expectancy, and migration. It examines changes to family structures, employment, entrepreneurship, productivity, savings, and investment, and their policy implications.

Central Questions:

What are the social and policy adjustments necessary to adapt to the rapidly changing composition of Singapore's population?

How can the economy take advantage of innovation? What reforms are required to allow a smaller and older population to remain dynamic and highly productive?

This representative household survey of 2000 older persons delves into respondents' beliefs about achieving successful ageing - what it constitutes, how it can be achieved and respondents' appraisal of their preparation to age successfully. The study also document respondents' experience of age in terms of quality of life, integration within the community and their experience and attitudes towards ageism. Perceptions about lifelong learning and employability, especially what motivates older persons to consider such pursuits, are also reported.

Lead Researcher: Dr Mathew Mathews

This project examines four key aspects of longevity and ageing in Singapore. We consider: 1) the concepts and measures of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, 2) the financial "risks" of longer lives, 3) the infrastructure needed to support an ageing society and 4) the social, cultural and political dimensions of a long-lived society. Phase I is conducted through a series of closed-door discussions where invited experts weigh in on the discussion and will culminate in an IPS Exchange Series. Phase II will involve broad public outreach and response.

Lead Researcher:Christopher Gee

The cluster is collaborating with the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) on a few projects. The first involves research on introducing age into national accounts and transfers, examining their impact on Singapore's generational economy. The cluster recently also worked with NPTD to study the Active Ageing Index (AAI) in the Singaporean context through measuring key areas of active ageing as defined by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), namely employment, participation in society, independent, healthy and secure living and the capacity and enabling environment for active ageing.

Lead Researcher: Christopher Gee

The aim of this project is to construct a stochastic dynamic computable general equilibrium model of the Singapore that allows policymakers and scholars to analyse the economic and welfare implications of different policy choices, and how population ageing would affect the choices Singapore faces.

This project will complement the work we are currently undertaking together with the National Population and Talent Division on National Transfer Accounts for Singapore and understanding the generational economy amidst an ageing population. This CGE-based project will incorporate behavioural elements, allowing the model to better reflect imperfections in labour and health markets, and facilitating analysis in domains such as manpower, housing, health and retirement financing.

Lead Researcher: Christopher Gee

This is a book project in collaboration with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on health and other social welfare policies in the context of ageing populations in Asia. The cluster was involved in writing chapters on demographic impact and old-age income security as well as in developing an extensive database of demographic indicators for countries in East, Southeast and South Asia in the period between 1950 and 2050.

Lead Researcher: Dr Yap Mui Teng

D&F is also working with the OECD Korea Policy Centre to develop an Asian version of the OECD Family Database. Currently, the seven countries involved in the project are Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. Indicators included cover four dimensions – The Structure of Families, The Labour Market Position of Families, Public Policies for Families and Children, and Child Outcomes.

Lead Researcher: Dr Yap Mui Teng

The purpose of our research is to understand and inform how entrepreneurship can play a role in active ageing in Singapore. As a first cut, the proposed study here seeks to systematically understand why older people in Singapore start businesses - the push and pull factors, as well as the potential benefits of entrepreneurship with respect to their financial, health, and social well-being. Accordingly, our focus is to identify key antecedents to senior entrepreneurship and understand its efficacy in promoting productive longevity among senior citizens from a life course perspective.

Lead Researcher: Dr Alex Tan

As part of the War on Diabetes campaign, the Ministry of Health and IPS collaborated on a novel public engagement exercise, the Citizens’ Jury (CJ), a first in Singapore. Seventy-five “jurors” deliberated on the question: “As a community, how can we enable one another to live free from diabetes and help Singaporeans with diabetes manage their condition well?” The CJ took place over four sessions from 25 November 2017 to 13 January 2018. At the end of the CJ, participants presented their recommendations to policymakers who responded to the group in April 2018 on the recommendations that the government would look into. IPS has released a report on the project, reflecting on the implementation and impact of the CJ, specifically the extent to which it fulfils five key principles of deliberation — inclusivity and diversity, fairness and equality, knowledge gain, efficacy, and applicability.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

The forum, held in July 2014, was structured around two panel discussions. The first discussed the desired outcomes of our Central Provident Fund (CPF) system based on current and projected retirement needs amidst the backdrop of our rapidly ageing population. The second discussed how those outcomes can be achieved in a sustainable way. Speakers were invited to offer their suggestions for reforming the system, and they spoke on a range of topics. There was also a dialogue session with Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan Jin, and a Closing Dialogue session with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam. Read more here.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

IPS and professional services firm Towers Watson collaborated on a study of the investment risks and opportunity costs faced by the individual member of/contributor to Singapore’s Central Provident Fund as well as the investment risks faced by the government in the investment of the pooled funds. IPS Working Papers No.24: The Investment Risks in Singapore’s Retirement Financing System gives a framework for evaluating the investment risks in the system, explaining conceptually how once all the various risks are priced why there might be differences in the investment returns achieved both by the individual, as well as the state (and its various agents).

Lead Researcher: Christopher Gee

The survey, published in April 2013, was commissioned by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and serves to monitor and track changes in the situation and attitudes of the resident population aged 55 and older. It was conducted when the first baby boomers (born between 1947–1964) began reaching retirement age. A total of 10,000 households with at least one household member aged 55 or older were surveyed during this period and assessed across different areas such as employment and retirement, family and social support and income adequacy.

Lead Researcher: Yap Mui Teng

This study, published in July 2015, was undertaken to examine the attitudes of married Singaporeans towards the government’s various Marriage & Parenthood (M&P) measures, in view of the constant low fertility levels. Conducted between July and September 2014, the POPS(7) survey polled 2,000 married Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 21 to 49 to examine the adequacy of the M&P Package.

Lead Researcher: Christopher Gee