Sep 30, 2013

Myth: Singapore's old age support ratio is alarming.

Fast-ageing Singapore, fewer to support aged; Trend worries experts:
"Singaporeans are living longer and not having enough babies to replace themselves, meaning the swiftly ageing population has fewer working citizens supporting the growing pool of elderly."
Some statistics:
Singapore old age support ratio: 6.4, in 2013. (from If only citizens are considered, the ratio is 5.5 in 2013.

How good or bad is this ratio? One way to decide is to look at international statistics. OECD has a 2011 report on old age support rates, using 2008 data. Most of the countries have ratios below 5. For OECD, the support ratio is 4.2; Japan, 2.8; Germany, 3.0; Sweden 3.3; Finland, 3.7, Denmark, 3.7.

We do not see these countries falling apart because of their very low support ratios. The huge alarm over Singapore's old age support ratio is an over-reaction.

Definition: "The old age support rates relate to the number of those who are capable of providing economic support to the number of older people that may be materially dependent on the support of others. The support rate indicator used here is the population aged 20 to 64 as a ratio of those aged 65 and over."

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