Immigration policies

Don't exacerbate ageing population woes

As we cope with the social and economic pressures associated with an ageing population, it is great to learn of the bumper crop of 33,725 citizen births recorded last year ("Singapore's population grows 1.3% to 5.61 million" and "More maids, foreign family members of citizens, in Singapore"; both published on Wednesday).

However, the threat of a rising dependency ratio remains unchanged. And, according to Wednesday's reports, the way to alleviate the threat is by increasing the influx of immigrants and the number of births.

The socio-economic costs associated with higher immigration and number of births should not be dismissed.

Immigrants who are granted citizenship or permanent resident status will become dependants in the future.

One must also consider the likelihood of foreign grandparents moving to Singapore to take care of their grandchildren, in the case of couples where at least one spouse is an immigrant. For example, the dependency ratio will increase if such couples have only one child but two foreign grandparents moving to Singapore.

Formulating and executing immigration policies need to be looked at in greater detail, or risk becoming double-edged swords that end up exacerbating the problems of an ageing population.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Don't exacerbate ageing population woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe