Saturday, 28 April 2012

Population Up^ Up^ Up^

Citizen Population Scenario

1. This paper discusses the demographic characteristics of our citizen population under various scenarios.

2. The population scenarios are not predictions or forecasts, but are illustrations of the growth and change in population that would occur if certain assumptions about future demographic trends were to prevail over the projection period. These assumptions may or may not be realised

3. Our citizen population demography is dependent on the following key factors:
i. Total Fertility Rate (TFR)
ii. Life expectancy
iii. Migration

Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

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PMO: Singapore needs to continue attracting immigrants to slow down the decline and aging of citizens

A paper released by the National Population and Talent Division under the PMO has stated that Singapore needs to continue attracting immigrants to slow down the decline and aging of its citizen population.

By 2030, the number of elderly citizens will triple to 900,000, representing about 30% of the population. Compounding this is Singapore’s low Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 1.2, well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

Without immigration, the National Population and Talent Division says citizen deaths will exceed births in 13 years. By 2025, the population will also start to age and shrink, with the median age being 45 – up from the current 39 years.

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Immigration Crucial to Singapore’s Growth: Govt Study

As sentiment against foreign immigrants becomes increasingly pronounced in Singapore, the government’s agency in charge of population has issued a paper saying a steady flow of immigrants is crucial to the baby-scarce city-state’s survival.

According to a report from the government’s National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), headed by deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Singapore – with one of the lowest fertility rates in the world at 1.2 children born per woman but with a rising life expectancy – would need 25, 000 new citizens per year to keep the population stable.

“Without immigration, and if our current low total fertility rate and high life expectancy continue, the number of citizen deaths is projected to outstrip births by around 2025,” the report said. “At that point, our citizen population will start to decline.”

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Why Singapore needs new citizens


The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is now 1.2, one of the lowest in the world. If it stays as it is and Singapore shuts out new migrants from this year, the citizen population will start shrinking in 13 years' time.

This means the pool of working age citizens will also drop steadily from today's 2.1 million to about 1.5 million in 2060.

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Population Paper has the fundamentals wrong

Just when we thought our Government had heard the call of Singaporeans to moderate the flow of immigration, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), under the purview of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, seems bent on convincing us of our folly with a policy paper (an “Occasional Paper”) heavily biased in favour of an ever-more open-door policy.

Simply put, the Occasional Paper states that Singapore’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is unsustainably low, and that the solution to demographic decay is immigration.

More precisely, immigration at a rate of 25,000 new citizens a year.


Unwinnable Argument

Yesterday we had another paper from the Singapore government to defend the massive number of foreigners working in Singapore. A paper from the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) said that Singapore need an inflow of 25,000 to keep our working population stable.

NPTD report that if Singapore maintain the current fertility rate, there would be a population decline of almost 750,000 citizens by 2060. They also point out that Singaporean deaths are projected to outstrip Singaporean births by 2025, leading to a significant decline in our citizen population due to the current low fertility rates. Thus the need to maintain an inflow of foreign workers.

The problem for them...that was not what the Singapore government did! In 2008, there were 100,000 new foreign workers in Singapore. 4 times higher than the 25,000 stated in the NPTD report. There are more than 1 million non citizens working in Singapore currently. 25,000 per year is a drop in the bucket compare to 1,000,000.

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The ugly truth about TFR and foreign influx....

Yesterday we heard this argument again - if Singapore's fertility rate does not go up, we have to import more foreigners. A paper from the National Population and Talent Division, suggested that unless we get our TFR (Total Fertility Rate) up from 1.2 which is the lowest in Asia, we need an inflow of 25,000 to keep our working population stable[Immigration crucial in baby-scarce Singapore: Govt paper]."Without immigration, the paper shows that citizen deaths will exceed births in 13 years. By 2025, the population will also start to age and shrink, with the median age being 45 - up from the current 39 years.

The citizen workforce will also start to shrink, with fewer working-age citizens supporting each elderly citizens.

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No let up in push for 6m population

Another big convincing article in the ST, and in other news media, telling how precarious the country will be if there is no intake of immigrants. The need for population growth or replacement is a critical issue and without growth or at least replacement it is like we are going to perish. This one track mind on population growth and economic growth will not change and will be the basis for all other policies of the country.

Why must there be population growth to survive? The fact is that if every country goes on this path, the world will come to an end faster. This world, and this island, needs lesser population growth. Lesser population and less growth in economic numbers do not directly lead to lower quality of life. We were 1m and 2m before. We survived very well. Why a need for 6m or 10m? Better economic growth? More people, more demand for goods and services, more jobs, more housing, but lesser space for everyone. And replacing Sinkies with foreigners so that the country can be proud of great economic numbers?

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Kicking Out The Chaff

Richard Hartung is a consultant who has lived in Singapore since 1992, what we do not know is whether he has taken up citizenship after 20 years of immersion. What we do know is that his expat friends have gotten word of employment pass renewal rejections, and even permanent residents' (PR) re-entry permits are not being renewed as (easily as before). Writing plainly with sympathy to their cause, he quotes one blogger: "It's pot luck … Doesn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason." Or is it?

Well, we now know that the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) is targeting an intake of 20,000 to 25,000 to keep the population size stable, whatever that means. In countries that have free healthcare and social welfare for the needy, the number of working age available to support elderly citizens is a significant ratio in demography. In Singapore, young or old, our individual CPF balance is our own lifeline. Ask for a discount in transport fare, and the ogre of a minister will threaten to increase the GST.

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Total Fertility Rate and foreign influx

Yesterday we heard this argument again – if Singapore’s fertility rate does not go up, we have to import more foreigners. A paper from the National Population and Talent Division, suggested that unless we get our TFR (Total Fertility Rate) up from 1.2 which is the lowest in Asia, we need an inflow of 25,000 to keep our working population stable[Immigration crucial in baby-scarce Singapore: Govt paper].

“Without immigration, the paper shows that citizen deaths will exceed births in 13 years. By 2025, the population will also start to age and shrink, with the median age being 45 – up from the current 39 years.
The citizen workforce will also start to shrink, with fewer working-age citizens supporting each elderly citizens.
Currently, there are 6.3 working-age citizens supporting each elderly citizen.
By 2030, this ratio will drop to 2.1 is to 1.” – Today Report [Link]

I haven’t gone through the numbers but lets take it that it is correct and reasonable to maintain a workforce of a constant size. That is not what the PAP govt did in the last 10 years – they were not maintaining the workforce but expanding it to ramp up the GDP:


The above chart shows just the new PRs + new citizens [Link]does not include the large non-resident workforce of more than 1 million (see previous posting).

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Unlike HK, Singapore has easy access to cheap foreign labour

UNLIKE Hong Kong, the market forces of demand and supply do not apply here because of the abundant source of cheap foreign labour ('About that superior Hong Kong wage comparison...' by Mr Toh Cheng Seong; last Saturday).

The buoyant economy and slow productivity growth over decades discouraged mechanisation, and so the construction industry here lags behind that of Hong Kong.

We should not accept the widening income gap any longer. It is easy to insist that higher wages must be predicated with higher productivity and economic growth to meet global competitiveness.

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BIG POPULATION INCOMPATIBLE WITH SICK, FAT, LAZY GLOBAL ECONOMIES (REMEMBER YOU CAN’T MAKE ELEPHANTS DANCE)



Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize- winning economist and Columbia University professor is right. The GFC exposed “major flaws” in prevailing ideas [Link]. Amongst these were financial markets are efficient and competitively priced of resources allocation; economic participants behaved rationally and have equal access to information. I want to add a few more of these now-flawed premises – “BIG” population is beautiful and government-know-it-all of solutions in resolution of the GFC – are also complete nonsense. Why? The excesses of “BIG” asset bubble economy, after that burst, threw millions out of work, into poverty and knife edge struggle for survival in two of the largest economic “prosperity” blocs – US and Europe. In the reality of globalized economies, you can’t make elephant dance, particularly for open and export-dependent economies most vulnerable to economic turbulence. Big population supplying huge labor input is toxic and Singapore being without a strong captive external sector supporting indigenous manufacturing are at elevated risks of magnified impact of another major global economic downturn. Obesity implies higher risks of employment redundancy in a repeat of another GFC.

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Comparing Canada's high standard for PR approval to S'pore's suka suka policy

I have made a few posts regarding Singapore's lax entry requirements for PRs such that we now have any Tom Dick and Harry in the streets. Anyone with skills, or no skills, or any skills, will do. Rojak.

Many developed countries only accept PRs with the skills the host country wants. Canada is one of the highest sought place to emigrate. It has about one of the longest waiting period of approval due to the super long queue.

Today, in 2012, as the number of migrants fill up the quota, Canada has decided to raise the criteria bar higher. Here is a report from the Straits Times.
Canada may screen skilled migrants before arrival

OTTAWA (AFP) - Skilled immigrants to Canada may soon have to certify their educational credentials with third parties before arriving in the country, according to a new proposal by the immigration ministry

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