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Singapore's population shrinks to 5.45 million; citizens and PRs dip for first time since 1970

Singapore's population shrinks to 5.45 million; citizens and PRs dip for first time since 1970

A father playing with his children at a playground. (Photo: CNA/Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s total population shrank by 4.1 per cent to 5.45 million in June this year, largely due to a fall in non-resident numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to official figures released on Tuesday (Sep 28).

Both citizen and resident populations saw year-on-year declines for the first time since the Government began collecting such data in 1970, said the National Population and Talent Division, which publishes the annual Population in Brief report. The resident population comprises citizens and permanent residents (PRs).

Specifically, the number of citizens fell by 0.7 per cent to 3.5 million, while PR numbers dropped 6.2 per cent to 490,000.

Chart showing total population size of Singapore as of June 2021. (Graphic: Rafa Estrada)

“Travel restrictions during the pandemic was the main factor affecting the size of the (citizen) and PR population in 2021, as more (citizens) and PRs were staying overseas continuously for 12 months or more, who therefore were not counted as part of the resident population,” the National Population and Talent Division said.

Chart showing the breakdown of the population by residency status over the past few years. (Graphic: Rafa Estrada)

Fewer people became new citizens or PRs last year, likely due to travel restrictions and operational limitations arising from COVID-19, it said.

“For example, safe management measures resulted in limited slots to complete the final steps for PR and citizenship registration, which must be done in-person.

“As a result, some applicants who were approved in-principle had not completed all the required processes to be granted their permanent residency or citizenship by end-2020.”


The non-resident population saw the largest drop of 10.7 per cent to hit 1.47 million.

This came on the back of a decrease in foreign employment from June 2020 to June 2021, amid travel restrictions and uncertain economic conditions, said the division.

Chart showing levels of foreign employment in Singapore. Foreign domestic workers are excluded from the figures. (Graphic: Rafa Estrada)

“The decrease was seen across all pass types, with the largest drop in work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors.”


Singapore’s citizen population is also continuing to grey, with the median age rising from 42.2 years in 2020 to 42.5 years this year.

Chart showing how the median age of citizens has risen over the past decade. (Graphic: Rafa Estrada)

The proportion of seniors – aged 65 and above – is rising, and at a faster pace than the last decade, as large cohorts of “baby boomers” have begun joining this age group, the report said.

Overall, the proportion of seniors has increased from 10.4 per cent in 2011 to 17.6 per cent in 2021.

“This proportion is expected to increase to about 23.8 per cent in 2030,” the report said.

The number of citizens aged 80 and above has also almost doubled from 71,000 in June 2011 to 128,000 in June this year.

Source: CNA/dv


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