Immigration crucial in baby-scarce Singapore: Govt paper

SINGAPORE - Singapore’s population will start to shrink by 2025 if no new citizenships are granted to immigrants and the fertility rate remains low, a government paper said Tuesday.

The paper said that without immigration and if the fertility rate remains at 1.2 babies born per woman – among the lowest in Asia – deaths among the ageing population will outstrip births by 2025.

“At that point, our citizen population will start to decline,” said the paper released by the National Population and Talent Division, which is under the prime minister’s office.

Singapore’s total fertility rate (TFR) is well below the 2.1 babies per woman needed for the population to replenish itself naturally.

A shrinking population will also impact on the labour situation, said the paper, which is aimed at generating public discussion on the issue.

By 2030, “Singapore will experience an unprecedented age shift as over 900,000 baby boomers will retire from the work force and enter their silver years", the paper said.

The addition of new citizens is vital to ensuring an adequate number of working adults to support the elderly, it added.

“An inflow of 25,000 new citizens per year would keep the size of our working-age citizen population relatively stable,” the paper said.

The number suggested is a 33 percent jump from the 18,758 new citizens accepted in 2010.

Singapore had a total population of 5.2 million in 2011, comprised of 3.26 million citizens and 532,000 permanent residents. The rest – over one million – are foreign workers on employment passes and their families.

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