WHITE PAPER ON POPULATION

One boy's future in 2030, according to the White Paper

IN 2030, Daniel Tay will be 24 and ready to step into the working world.

But for every Daniel that joins the workforce, two others will retire, as Singapore's population ages dramatically as a result of low birth rates and people living longer.

This picture is quite different from today's, where two new workers replace every one that leaves.

By 2030, Daniel's older sisters Elizabeth and Anna will be 28 and 26 years old. Rebecca, however, will be 19 and still in school.

By then, the number of seniors aged 65 and older would have tripled to 900,000 in 2030.

Their parents hold white-collar jobs. Mr Augustine Tay is a manager in a software firm and Madam Cheong Sze Chen is a financial consultant and music instructor. Both are 37. And they nurse the hope that their children can have good-paying jobs.

If the White Paper on a Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore pans out, two out of three Singaporeans will be professionals, managers, executives and technicians. It is one in two now.

Daniel's colleagues, clients and maybe friends will include foreigners, permanent residents and new citizens, who will give the country a fillip even as economic growth slows to 2 to 3 per cent a year, unlike today's 3 to 5 per cent.

Like his Indonesian maid Pasri Genep Slamt, 29, a foreigner may look after his children.

However, he may not drive a car like his parents, and not only because the cost of doing so is high. The rail network will have doubled. Most people will walk to an MRT station. Trains should not be overcrowded even with 6.9 million people on the island.

And he should find an HDB flat amid green spaces to make his home, with the wait to own one not too long.

GOH CHIN LIAN