More working couples, rising incomes, shrinking households: 7 highlights from S'pore population census

Some 150,000 households participated in the latest edition of the census. ST PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI, KUA CHEE SIONG, YONG LI XUAN, GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Households in Singapore across all major ethnic groups have brought in higher incomes over the last 10 years, amid a growing trend of married, dual-career couples.

This was one of the key findings in the second of a two-part census report released by the Department of Statistics on Friday (June 18). The first was issued on Wednesday.

The census is an official survey on key characteristics of the resident population - encompassing citizens and permanent residents - conducted every decade.

Some 150,000 households participated in the latest edition, which also collected for the first time data on geographic distribution of workplace and difficulty in performing basic activities.

Here are some highlights:

1. S'pore households are earning more, and in higher income brackets

The proportion of Singapore resident households earning at least $9,000 a month grew from 29.7 per cent in 2010 to 44.2 per cent in 2020.

Significantly, the share of those earning at least $20,000 more than doubled from 6.6 per cent to 13.9 per cent.

Median household income from work rose 3.3 per cent per annum, from $5,600 to $7,744, or 1.9 per cent in real terms, factoring in inflation.

Median household income from work, per household member, increased by 4.2 per cent per annum, from $1,638 to $2,463, or 2.8 per cent, in real terms.

These figures also rose across the board for all ethnic groups. After accounting for household size, it was Malay households that registered the highest growth, of 4.3 per cent per annum, from $1,043 to $1,594 in 2020, or 3 per cent per annum in real terms.

The corresponding figures were $2,603 for the Chinese and $2,521 for Indians.


2. More working couples; both more educated

The share of married couples with an employed wife increased from 52.9 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent last year.

The proportion with only the husband employed dropped from 32.6 per cent to 24.9 per cent.

The largest combination - 52.5 per cent - among married couples was the dual-career one, where both are employed. This is an increase from 47.1 per cent in 2010.

The share of married couples where both spouses have equal qualifications also rose from 44.3 per cent to 46.6 per cent.

Across all educational qualification groups of the husband, instances where the wife had lower qualifications than the husband declined.


3. Households shrinking to 3 or fewer members

The share of one-person households increased from 12.2 per cent in 2010 to 16 per cent in 2020, along with a rise in two-person households - from 18.8 per cent to 22.6 per cent.

This shift was most prominent for Malay households, with the share of those with three or fewer members growing from 35.7 per cent to 49.9 per cent.

The proportion of resident households with at least one family nucleus dropped from 82.9 per cent to 78 per cent.

A family nucleus in a household can be formed by a married couple or a parent with never-married children.

The drop was mainly due to a dip in the share of couple-based households with children, from 56 per cent to 47.7 per cent.

In 2020, the share of Chinese one-person households was 17.3 per cent and 23.6 per cent for households with no family nucleus. This is higher than the respective numbers for Malays (9.8 per cent and 13.6 per cent) and Indians (12.7 per cent and 17.9 per cent).


4. More ageing residents living alone

The proportion of households with at least one member aged 65 and above rose from 24.1 per cent in 2010 to 34.5 per cent in 2020.

The number of seniors living alone also more than doubled over the same period, from 27,900 to 63,800.

For the first time, it was revealed that nearly 98,000, or 2.5 per cent, of residents aged five and above were unable to perform or had a lot of difficulty in performing at least one basic activity, which includes seeing, hearing, mobility, remembering and concentrating, self-care or communicating.

Of these, 69,400 residents were aged 65 and over.


5. More living in condos

The proportion of resident households living in condominiums and other apartments increased from 11.5 per cent in 2010 to 16 per cent in 2020.

But the bulk - about four in five - remained in Housing Board flats. Of these, nearly one-third lived in four-room flats, keeping it as the most common house type over the past decade.

A larger majority - 96.2 per cent - of Malay resident households were in HDB flats in 2020. The share of Malays living in one- and two-room flats rose from 8.7 per cent to 16 per cent.

The proportion of Malay resident households in condominiums was 3 per cent, compared with 17.3 per cent for the Chinese and 16.2 per cent for Indians.

The corresponding figures for landed properties were 0.7 per cent for Malays, 5.6 per cent for Chinese and 3.9 per cent for Indians.

The proportion of owner-occupied households overall remained high at close to nine in 10.


6. City centre still hosts the most workers

Some 284,000 of those employed in Singapore - or 12.9 per cent of the resident workforce - headed to office in the Downtown Core planning area in 2020. This is where the bulk of Singapore's central business district offices are located.

Following it were Queenstown, Geylang and Bukit Merah, with more than 100,000 residents working in each of these areas.

Younger people formed a large part of the workers at Singapore's financial and commercial centre, with almost two-thirds below 45 years old and less than 4 per cent aged 65 and above.


7. More on public transport, fewer get to work in cars

In 2020, 57.7 per cent of employed residents took combinations of the bus, MRT, or LRT to work - up from 54.6 per cent in 2010.

The share of those who relied on a car dropped from 24.8 per cent to 21.1 per cent.

Over the decade, the median travelling time to work increased from 30 minutes to 37 minutes for those commuting by public bus, and from 40 minutes to 45 minutes for those taking the MRT or LRT.

Those who used a combination of these clocked 60 minutes, up from 50 minutes in 2010.

In a car, the corresponding duration remained the same, at 30 minutes.


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