Over a cup of tea

The official figures will take some time to come, but if the 2013 estimates by the Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook is to be believed than Singapore recorded the lowest Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in the world last year, at 0.79.

In all probability, this may not be proved true as just one year earlier, in the Year of the Dragon - 2012, TFR showed a slight improvement to reach a five-year high of 1.29, compared to 1.2 in 2011. So a sudden drop to 0.79 is highly unlikely. But one thing is certain. Singapore is ageing rapidly and is bound to face, what policy analysts are calling, a “silver tsunami” soon.

The government predicts that by 2030, there will be only 2.1 working-age citizens in Singapore for each citizen aged 65 and above. Right now, this figure stands at 6.3, also known as the old-age support ratio.

All this translates to shrinking customer base, inadequate manpower, and increasing economic burden on the working-age population. Moreover, emigration may also increase as increasingly mobile, young educated Singaporeans will want to move to other exciting countries.

This is a huge issue for the country, something which the policy makers have been deliberating since the 1990s.

Our focus in Newzzit's 12th issue is precisely this.

Under various sections, we explore the issues related to the elderly population of Singapore. We also take a nuanced look at other countries, which are already facing or are going to face similar challenges with respect to the “greying” of population.

Here's one food for thought.

In the West, the State takes care of its elderly population. In the East, where there is not much “welfare”, family ties take care of the seniors. But in situations where the State decides not to be pursue welfarism and family ties are also weakening, who is to take care of the “Pioneer Generation”?

This is for all of us to ponder on!