Singapore's non-resident population falls by 1.6%, first drop in 14 years

The total population of Singapore grew by 0.1 per cent to 5.61 million, the slowest rate of growth since 2003.
The total population of Singapore grew by 0.1 per cent to 5.61 million, the slowest rate of growth since 2003.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's non-resident population fell by 1.6 per cent to 1.65 million, the first drop in 14 years, mainly due to a decline in Work Permit holders.

The fall was attributed to a weakness in the construction and the marine and offshore engineering sectors, the National Population and Talent Division said in its annual Population in Brief report, released on Wednesday (Sept 27).

Non-residents are made up of Work Permit holders, Employment and S Pass holders, students, foreign domestic workers and other dependents.

With the decrease in non-residents, the total population of Singapore grew by 0.1 per cent to 5.61 million. This is the slowest rate of growth in over a decade.

In contrast, the decade before 2017 saw total population grow by an average of 2.45 per cent per year.

Meanwhile, the citizen population continued to age.

The proportion of citizens aged 65 and above went up from 13.7 per cent to 14.4 per cent in 2017. This is markedly higher than 10 years ago, when this proportion was at 9.4 per cent. The median age of citizens rose from 41.0 to 41.3.

The citizen old-age support ratio fell from 4.7 to 4.4. This ratio indicates the number of citizens aged 20 to 64 years, for every citizen aged 65 and above.

Citizen births remained stable. It fell in 2016 by 1.7 per cent to 33,167, after a year of record high births in 2015, which experts attributed to the SG50 effect. The 2016 figure remains higher than the average over the past decade of 32,200.

On the whole, the citizen population grew by 0.9 per cent to 3.44 million, due to citizen births and immigration, the report said.

The permanent resident population remained stable, at 527,000.

Citizen marriages - defined as the number of marriages involving at least one citizen - rose marginally in 2016 to 23,873.

Of these, 36 per cent were transnational marriages, down from a peak of 41 per cent in 2010.

Inter-ethnic marriages make up 21 per cent of citizen marriages. This was stable from the previous year, but significantly higher than 10 years before, when it was 15 per cent.