Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on Population Trends, New Citizens and Infrastructure Planning
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
WEDNESDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2020
Ms Poh Li San:
To ask the Prime Minister in view of Singapore’s population statistics for 2019 (a) whether the Government will review the long-term population targets given the increasing trend of outsourcing work overseas and reduction in the employment of foreign workers in Singapore; (b) whether the proportion of annual new citizens will remain at approximately 70% of citizens by birth; and (c) how will changes in Singapore’s population demographics affect national infrastructure planning.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa:
To ask the Prime Minister (a) what are the projected trends of birth rates, life expectancy and immigration in the next decade; and (b) whether the Government has a long-term population target and what are the policy considerations.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
The Government has clarified via a media statement and Factually articles in March and July 2020 that it does not have a population target or seek to achieve a particular population size. Singapore’s population size is affected by many factors, including birth rates, life expectancy, as well as global developments affecting immigration and employment. In March 2018, we updated Parliament that given recent trends, Singapore’s total population size is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030. This outlook remains valid today.
Like most developed economies, Singapore’s resident total fertility rate TFR is below replacement. Our most recent resident TFR, for 2019, was 1.14, unchanged from the year before.
To moderate the impact of ageing and our low birth rates, we take in a stable and measured number of new citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) every year. To the Member’s question on annual new citizens, over the past five years, we granted an average of about 22,100 new Singapore Citizenships (SCs) each year. This included about 1,600 children born overseas to Singaporean parents every year. We also granted about 31,700 new PRs on average each year, over the past five years. The total size of the PR population has remained at around half a million for many years now. New citizens either share family ties with Singaporeans, or have studied, worked or lived here for some time. They are drawn from the pool of qualified PRs who eventually make the serious commitment to take on citizenship. Citizenship and PR status are granted selectively to applicants who are committed to making Singapore their home, and who can integrate and contribute to Singapore.
Infrastructure planning is a long-term process guided by many factors, not only demographics. These include, among others, land use needs for economic growth, improving housing and transport for our people, socioeconomic and technological trends, as well as ensuring a good environment and resilience to climate change shocks. Our infrastructure planning process allows us to be flexible and responsive in catering to the changing needs of our residents, and ensure a good quality living environment in Singapore.
We will continue to monitor our population trends closely, and regularly review our population policies along with our infrastructure and social development needs. This will ensure that Singapore remains a cohesive society and a good home for all Singaporeans.