Singapore is definitely one of the most urbanized countries in the world with a population of 5.18 million people, according to 2011 census. By 2010, Singapore had crossed the 5 million mark for the first time. In 2012, the government of Singapore announced that the country aims at having a population of 6.5 million within the next two decades. So, while the planners of the country are busy reviewing and drawing up new plans to accommodate this expected hike in population, there is a need to introspect the entire population scenario of Singapore and where it is heading to.
When it comes to considering the actual statistics of citizens, permanent residents and foreigners in the country, there is a vast disparity. Out of the total population, nearly 40% of people who reside in Singapore are foreigners. Furthermore, out of the 60% population which comprises of citizens, 23% are born outside the country. So, they fall under the category of foreign born citizens. As far as the permanent citizens are concerned, there are just half a million of them. Besides all these people, Singapore witnesses a transient population of 11 million people comprising of tourists.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the population of Singapore consisted largely of adult male immigrants. In the following two decades, there was an increase in number of women and Singapore-born population. The ratio of men and women improved in the next 20 years and by 1947, the census recorded 1217 men for every 1000 women. The total population was on a healthy increase. However, immigrant population increased immensely. In 1965, when Singapore gained independence, the government tightened immigration rules. Unskilled foreign labor was discouraged from settling down in the country and permissions for permanent residency were granted only to the skilled labor. Acquiring citizenship was made very tough.
Alarmed at the growing rate of population in the country due to falling death rates and increasing birth rates, the government began enforcing population control policies. Family planning board was formulated in 1966. By 1970, birthrates fell. But soon after, owing to the postwar scenario, the population began to grow. The government tightened family planning measures and sterilization and abortions were made legal. By 1975, fertility rates were at an all time low of 1.005 per woman and then, it plummeted further, which was when the government began to get alarmed at the falling population. Reversing its previous stance, it offered incentives for bearing more children.
In 1989, Singapore recorded a population of 2,674,362 with almost equal men to women ratio and a significant 78% Singapore born population. By 2000, the population had reached just over 4 million with 3.2 million citizens and over the next decade, the population hit 5 million. In 2010, the population of the country grew by just 1.8%.
There are two important factors to consider here. Firstly, according to 2011 survey, there is an alarming drop in the fertility level of people in Singapore, which can cause a reduction in population growth rate over the following years. As per the last statistics, average family size in Singapore is 3.5 and average fertility rate is just over 1 per woman. Over the years, despite a fall in fertility and childbirths, the population of Singapore had managed to sustain due to the huge amount of immigrant population, which unfortunately, is the other cause of concern. Surveys have shown that there is a reduction in the number of immigrants moving into the country. With the two major sources of population growth dangling on the edge, what is the future of Singapore population? Will the country be left with enough youth population to sustain the astronomical growth obtained over the past many decades? That is something which time will tell.