Key updates in Singapore’s population trends

Singapore’s population shrank 4.1% between June 2020 and June 2021 to 5.45 million, largely due to a decline in non-residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the annual Population in Brief 2021. The report was published by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD).

This is the first time there has been a year-on-year decrease in both the citizen and resident populations since these data were first collected in 1970. It is also the largest decline in percentage terms and the third time the population has shrunk since 1950, according to data from the Department of Statistics.  The previous two instances were in 1986 and 2020.

As of June 2021, the Singapore citizen population dipped 0.7% to 3.5 million, the same level as in 2019. Over the same period from June 2020 to June 2021, the number of permanent residents (PR) fell by 6.2% to 490,000. NPTG explained that this was mainly because more citizens and PRs remained overseas continuously for 12 months or more due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, and were therefore not counted as part of the population.

The citizen population has continued to age, with the proportion of those 65 and above at 17.6% in June this year, compared with 16.8% a year ago.  Consequently, the median age of the citizen population continued inching up to 42.5 years as of June this year, compared with 42.2 years in the year-ago period, and 39.1 years in June 2011.

In 2020, 21,085 individuals were granted citizenship, with the annual average being between 15,000 and 25,000. About 6% of these were children born overseas to Singaporean parents.

While Singapore has been accepting about 30,000 new PRs a year since the tightening of the immigration framework in 2009, the number of individuals granted PR last year was 27,470. The non-resident population shed 10.7% and stood at 1.47 million, largely due to a decrease in foreign employment over a period brought by travel restrictions and uncertain economic conditions.