Social Policy in an Ageing Society

Social Policy in an Ageing Society

Age and Health in Singapore

David Reisman

Around half the world’s population live in countries where the fertility rate is far below the replacement rate and where life expectancy is increasing dramatically. Using Singapore as a case study, Social Policy in an Ageing Society explores what might happen in a dynamic and prosperous society when falling births, longer life expectancy and rising expectations put disproportionate pressure on scarce resources that have alternative uses.

Chapter 9: Labour in the Retirement Years

David Reisman

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, asian politics and policy, asian social policy, economics and finance, asian economics, health policy and economics, public sector economics, politics and public policy, asian politics, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, health policy and economics


There is income from savings and income from property. There is also income from work. The male life expectancy at age 65 is currently 17.1 years. For a woman it is 19.4 years (Ministry of Manpower, 2007a: 3). Soon the life expectancy at 65 will be two whole decades and more. It clearly reduces the old-age dependency burden if the over-55s, the over-62s and even the over-65s can continue to earn income for themselves. This chapter is about the hidden slack and the unnoticed potential. It is divided into four sections. The first section says that on current projections there will not be enough labour in Singapore to sustain the target rate of growth. The second section quantifies the participation rate to discover how many Singaporeans see themselves as available for work. The third section establishes how many of the job-seekers, self-defined, actually make their way into paid employment. The fourth section is concerned with the older worker. It attempts to gain a purchase on the characteristics of the over-55s and the over-62s in order to assess the contribution that they can make. 9.1 A MANPOWER SHORTFALL The nation as a whole stands to benefit from the retention of the more mature. In 2003 the authoritative Economic Review Committee advised that if the Singapore economy is to grow by 3 to 5 per cent a year, and assuming an underlying improvement in productivity of 2 to 3 per cent, the labour force must expand each year by 1 to 2...

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