Younger Singaporeans better able to find jobs, earn and save more than previous generations, report finds | World

Singaporeans aged in their forties are better educated, earn and save more, and can look forward to longer, healthier lives than citizens of more advanced years, the Ministry of Finance study concluded. — TODAY pic
Singaporeans aged in their forties are better educated, earn and save more, and can look forward to longer, healthier lives than citizens of more advanced years, the Ministry of Finance study concluded. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Oct 23 — Younger Singaporeans in their 40s are more educated and better able to find jobs, they are earning and saving more, and they are on track to longer healthier lives than citizens between the ages of 50 and 79, a new report has found.

The report, released yesterday by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), tracks how socio-economic outcomes have shifted across generations. The study tapped data from the Department of Statistics, and the Health and Manpower ministries.

The report, titled Key Socio-economic Outcomes Across Cohorts, studied a repertoire of socio-economic indicators: Educational attainment; employment and savings; residential-property ownership; health; and family support.

Younger Singaporeans fared better than those in the preceding generations across the majority of these indicators.

Even so, lower marriage rates and smaller families were recorded among the younger groups compared with older Singaporeans.

The share of women who have been married, or are presently married, widowed, separated or divorced, tumbled from 92 per cent among the 70-somethings to 82 per cent among those in their 40s last year.

The average number of children for every such woman also fell from 2.5 to 1.8 last year across the same age groups.

This could mean less support from the immediate family, MOF said.

The ministry added that the Government would continue to work with community partners to support those who may need extra help, and do more to help Singaporeans learn new skills, and earn and save more.

How the study was done

The study was divided into four age groups:

  • First-generation Singaporeans born from 1940 to 1949 (70 to 79 years old)
  • Second-generation Singaporeans born from 1950 to 1959 (60 to 69 years old)
  • Third-generation Singaporeans born from 1960 to 1969 (50 to 59 years old)
  • Fourth-generation Singaporeans born from 1970 to 1979 (40 to 49 years old)

Here is a rundown on how the various generations fared, based on the report:


The report examined the proportion of Singaporeans in the various groups who attained post-secondary credentials, including diploma and professional qualifications and university education. The findings showed significantly higher educational attainment among those in their 40s, compared with the other groups.

Post-secondary education:

  • 40- to 49-year-olds: 79 per cent
  • 50- to 59-year-olds: 49 per cent
  • 60- to 69-year-olds: 32 per cent
  • 70- to 79-year-olds: 22 per cent

When it comes to a university education, the contrasts were also stark: 44 per cent of those in their 40s were educated in a varsity, compared with 21 per cent (Singaporeans in their 50s), 10 per cent (60s), and 7 per cent (70s).

MOF said the trend towards better educational attainment largely stemmed from greater access and affordability as well as improvements in educational quality that paved the way for more options.

For instance, those in their 40s benefited from “major shifts” in the educational system to focus on technological literacy, continuing skills development, innovation and enterprise. By contrast, first-generation Singaporeans were raised amid a fragmented educational landscape organised by various community groups, with the quality of schools uneven.

Employment, incomes

Better educational qualifications allowed workers to take on good jobs with higher wages, and at the same time, save more for their golden years. The report compared each group when they were in their 40s on two counts: Their labour-force participation rate and income from work.

The labour-force participation rate measures the share of working-age people who engage actively in the labour market either by working or finding work. The rate was higher for fourth-generation Singaporeans in their 40s than it was for the second and third generations at that age. No data was available for first-generation Singaporeans.

Labour force participation rates:

  • 40- to 49-year-olds: 89 per cent
  • 50- to 59-year-olds: 84 per cent
  • 60- to 69-year-olds: 79 per cent

Each successive group also experienced income growth, though no data was available on first-generation Singaporeans. The median real gross monthly income of a full-time fourth-generation worker, including employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings scheme, was twice that of a full-time second-generation worker when they were in their 40s.

Median real monthly income:

  • 40- to 49-year-olds: S$5,900 (as of June 2018)
  • 50- to 59-year-olds: S$3,500 (as of June 2009)
  • 60- to 69-year-olds: S$2,800 (as of June 1999)

CPF savings

Younger Singaporeans also amassed more savings than older citizens for retirement, as borne out in their CPF accounts.

For instance, the median real CPF balance in the Ordinary and Special accounts of fourth-generation Singaporeans in their 40s was more than thrice (S$110,100 as of June 2018) that of second-generation workers at that age (S$36,300 as of June 1999).

Property ownership

While residential-property ownership rates fluctuated between generations, it was generally higher among the younger generations.

  • 40- to 49-year-olds: 82 per cent
  • 50- to 59-year-olds: 87 per cent
  • 60- to 69-year-olds: 85 per cent
  • 70- to 79-year-olds: 76 per cent


As quality of life, educational attainment, wages and home-ownership rates rose, Singaporeans are also living longer — and in good health.

The life expectancy of fourth-generation Singaporeans at age 45 was 41 years, higher than that for the third generation (39 years) and the second generation (35 years).

When adjusted for the amount of time lived in poor health, the life expectancy for fourth-generation Singaporeans at age 45 was 33 years, compared with 32 years for the third generation and 29 years for the second. Put another way, each group can expect to live one to three more years in good health, compared with the older group.

Adapting policies to changing needs

MOF said each successive generation has seen their lives improve, in step with Singapore’s economic growth over the 54 years since independence.

“The younger groups have had more access to educational and career opportunities, and have enjoyed stronger income growth,” said the ministry.

“They are also more retirement-ready, and live longer, healthier lives compared with previous generations.

“As our economy and society change and mature, and as family sizes decline, we will need to continue to review and adapt our policies in line with the evolving needs of Singaporeans.” — TODAY

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