Singaporeans earning more, living longer
New data shows those born between 1940 and 1979 experienced improvements to quality of life
Improved education, higher employment rates as well as longer life expectancy are among some of the improvements to quality of life for Singaporeans born between 1940 and 1979, said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) in the latest set of statistics released yesterday.
The study, which includes previously unpublished data from the Department of Statistics and the Manpower and Health Ministries, tracked the socio-economic outcomes of four generations of Singapore citizens born from 1940 to 1979. The generations represented are grouped into those born in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
In education, the data showed that 44 per cent of those born in the 1970s have university degrees, compared with the 7 per cent of those born in the 1940s.
The MOF attributed the increase to enhanced access, greater affordability and improvements in the overall quality of education here.
Improved education also led to more Singaporeans finding employment, with the total labour force participation rate increasing by 5 percentage points between 2009 and last year.
Female employment rate saw an even bigger jump - 11 percentage points in the same period.
Overall income has also risen, with Singaporeans in their 40s making a median wage of about $5,900 a month, up from the $3,500 those in their 50s made when they were in their 40s.
Overall life expectancy and health also increased, at age 45, those in their 40s can expect to live another 41 years, compared with an average of 37 years for older groups, the ministry said.
The MOF also pointed out that while home ownership has risen over time, there has been a dip for the youngest generation (those in their 40s) compared with those in their 50s and 60s.
However, ownership rates remain high, said the MOF spokesman.
While the statistics showed that Singaporeans in their 40s have seen a marked upward shift in quality of life when it comes to tangible markers of improvements, these changes also came at a cost, like less family support, as fewer of them are married and families are smaller.
Family therapist Evonne Lek told The New Paper that a shift away from strong family support could be worrying, especially as one gets older.
"Humans are social creatures and need community support to feel a sense of identity and belonging. This helps provide stability," she said, adding that social connections are also crucial in ensuring good health and quality of life.
Sociology professor Paulin Tay Straughan told TNP that while the trend of smaller families and more individuals choosing to remain single is a global phenomenon, it might not be a bad thing if action is taken to prepare for and mitigate the possible effects.
Prof Straughan said: "We should start thinking seriously about retirement communities, so that people can age gracefully even if they might not have adult children or family to support them."