Fewer S'poreans marrying and having children: Population census

The proportion of married residents dropped slightly to 58.8 per cent last year from 59.4 per cent in 2010.
The proportion of married residents dropped slightly to 58.8 per cent last year from 59.4 per cent in 2010.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - In a trend reflecting the generational changes in attitudes towards marriage and parenthood, fewer Singaporeans are getting married and having children than they were 10 years ago, with younger Singaporeans more likely to stay single.

The proportion of married residents dropped slightly, to 58.8 per cent in 2020 from 59.4 per cent in 2010, according to the population census released on Wednesday (June 16).

Those who were either divorced or separated increased from 3.3 per cent in 2010 to 4.3 per cent in 2020.

There continued to be a larger share of widowed residents among women than men, partly due to the higher life expectancy of women.

In 2020, the proportion of residents who were widowed was 8.4 per cent for women, compared with 1.9 per cent for men.

While the proportion of singles rose across all age groups, the increase was most prominent for those aged 25 to 34 years.

Between 2010 and 2020, the proportion of singles among residents aged 25 to 29 years rose from 74.6 per cent to 81.6 per cent for men, and from 54 per cent to 69 per cent for women.

Women also had fewer children compared with a decade ago, with the average number of children born among resident ever-married females aged 40-49 years decreasing from 2.02 per woman in 2010 to 1.76 in 2020.

The reasons for this are complex. Some reasons cited over the years range from couples marrying later and having fewer children, to the financial burden and educational stresses of raising children.

The decline took place across all ethnic and educational groups.

Malay residents had the highest average at 2.43 children per woman aged 40-49 years, although this was a decrease from 2.73 in 2010.

There was also a fall in the average number of children born to Chinese (1.65) and Indian (1.86) mothers aged 40-49 years.

University graduates aged 40 to 49 years had an average of 1.66 children in 2020, lower than the 1.94 average among those with secondary qualifications.

While those with two children continued to form the largest group among resident women who had ever been married, the proportion of those aged 40 to 49 years with three children fell from 22.3 per cent in 2010 to 15.5 per cent in 2020.

Those with only one child increased from 19 per cent to 24 per cent.

Correspondingly, the proportion of ever-married women in this age group who had never given birth increased from 9.3 per cent to 13.5 per cent in 2020.

The census - conducted every 10 years - surveyed 150,000 households in 2020 for its latest iteration.

It focuses mainly on the resident population, which comprises citizens and permanent residents. Singapore's total population rose from 5.077 million in 2010 to 5.686 million in 2020.

Note: The article has been updated for clarity.