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THE SINGAPORE MAGAZINE OF RESEARCH,
TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION
About Innovation
VIEWPOINT:
Lessons for a Rapidly Ageing Society
It may come as a surprise that Singapore is the fastest-ageing country in Asia. Studies attribute the trend to low fertility rates since the late 1970s, and healthcare improvements that have extended life expectancy.
by Kwang Wei TJAN

worldwide expansion of a grey population, as a result of declining birth rates, is giving rise to concern that in the near future not enough young people will exist to support the old. The anticipated inequity will strain society and drain its resources.

"Singapore is now the fastest ageing country in Asia, and the percentage of people above 65 will increase from the present 7% to 19% in 2030," observes Angelique Chan, assistant professor and sociologist from the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, whose studies are exploring the social and economic consequences of Singapore's ageing. This trend can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the overwhelmingly successful Two-Child Policy introduced in the 1960s, and increasing longevity. Financial support, healthcare, and social welfare will become dominant issues as the country plans for this rapidly expanding greying population.

Chan's current research is one of the first long-term studies conducted in Singapore that looks at the relationship between social support and health status transitions among older adults. The study involves interviewing elderly individuals about what makes their health deteriorate and what helps them recover. Her team looks at individual health status in a number of ways including perceived state of health, chronic limitations, and functional disabilities. The latter gauges the individual's ability to perform everyday activities, such as bathing, preparing meals, shopping and taking public transport. These questions are important in determining whether the individual can handle day-to-day tasks.

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INNOVATION magazine is a joint publication of Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore and World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd