By Lee Hui Chieh
SINGAPORE'S population hit almost 4.99 million in June this year, up 3.1 per cent from last year.
The growth has been fuelled mainly by the increase in immigrants, as the number of babies delivered by Singapore residents rose only marginally.
The figures released yesterday by the Department of Statistics show that the number of citizens grew from 3.16 million last year to 3.2 million this year, while that of permanent residents inched up from 0.48 million last year to 0.53 million this year.
The number of non-residents rose by 4.8 per cent to reach 1.25 million this year - a lower rise from the over-10 per cent rate in the last two years.
Just slightly more babies were born last year than in the previous year: 39,826, up 0.9 per cent. However, the total fertility rate dropped from 1.29 to 1.28 last year.
Associate Professor Paulin Straughan, a sociologist from the National University of Singapore, said that it is positive that Singapore has been able to sustain population growth, despite the recession and competition from other developed countries.
Like Singapore, they seek immigrants to make up for falling fertility rates.
Prof Straughan, who is also a Nominated Member of Parliament, said: "It shows that Singapore is a draw for migrants, that there are still jobs and quality of life here."
Administrative planner Yvonne Tay, 35, became a citizen in April this year, 16 years after coming here from Perak, as she wanted her children "to enjoy better education opportunities and subsidies as a citizen".
She said: "We're used to the lifestyle here, it's safe and peaceful. Half of my family is also here, and my sister's family also took up citizenship three years ago."
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