Thursday, 31 July 2014

CPF study to quiz 25,000 on health, retirement needs

Govt's aim is to improve policies and services related to ageing
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 30 Jul 2014

SOME 25,000 Singapore residents aged 45 to 85 would soon be invited to take part in an unusual government study of retirement and health needs.

The group of Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) will take part in what is believed to be the largest study of its kind here.

And it is a longitudinal study: A participant will be polled once every two years over 10 years, "to study changes in his employment and health status", said the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, which is leading the study.

The Government hopes to "improve ageing-related policies and services", said the CPF Board in a booklet on the study, which also involves the Finance, Health and Manpower ministries and the Housing Board.

The study's launch comes after much recent discussion about whether CPF funds are enough for people's retirement needs, prompted in part by blogger Roy Ngerng's May 15 post, which alleged that the Government "misappropriated" CPF savings.

But The Straits Times understands that the authorities had been considering having such a study from as early as last year.

Incidentally, a DBS Bank survey released earlier this month found that middle-income Singaporeans could risk underestimating their retirement needs.

The poll of 800 people aged 18 to 59 found that the "emerging affluent" were starting to save for retirement too late and could run out of funds in later years.

As for the CPF study, it will cover four main areas: family; health conditions; household expenses; and employment, income and personal savings.

Market research firm The Nielsen Company will conduct face-to-face interviews and ask respondents to fill up a questionnaire, which takes 11/2 to two hours to complete.

The respondents have been pre-selected and will receive a letter from the CPF Board from this month to next March, to notify them that they have been invited to take part in this survey.

Respondents stand to receive supermarket vouchers worth $50 when they complete an interview, and even their spouses can get vouchers worth $25.

The spouse's information is important for the authorities to "study the interaction of his/her status with your employment and retirement decisions".

Retiree F.Y. Wan, 60, said it is good that the Government is conducting such a study.

"It shows that they are getting views from the ground before implementing policies. But two hours for an interview seems quite long."

The duration could be shorter, said the CPF Board, if respondents allow interviewers to get their personal information from the relevant agencies so that there are fewer questions to answer.

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