Friday 11 March 2016

General Household Survey 2015

More young people in Singapore staying single
Singles now make up 70% of those in 25-29 age group, which experts say has hurt fertility rates
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 11 Mar 2016

More Singapore residents in their mid to late 20s are staying single, with most putting their career before marriage, said experts.

They make up 70 per cent of the people in their age group last year, a sharp rise from 50 per cent about 15 years ago, the latest General Household Survey shows. Their decision to delay marriage has hurt the country's fertility rates, and more needs to be done to get them to find partners earlier in life, said sociologists interviewed yesterday.

"One reason we are concerned is that if a woman marries past the age of 25 to 29, it will not be as easy for her to conceive naturally or have a larger family," said National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Paulin Straughan.

The decision not to get hitched is as prevalent among men as women in the 25-29 age group, often viewed as mature enough to marry.

Proportionally, their numbers have been rising steadily in the last 15 years, government surveys and the population census show.

In 2000, bachelors formed 64.2 per cent of their cohort, rising to 70.6 per cent (2005), 74.6 per cent (2010) and 81.2 per cent (2015). The corresponding figures for women are 40.2 per cent (2000), 46.3 per cent (2005), 54 per cent (2010) and 63 per cent (2015). But as they grow older, many do get married.

The latest household survey shows the proportion of married people among the resident population of citizens and permanent residents has hardly changed in the last 15 years. Overall, it hovers around two-thirds of the population.

The main reason young people are not marrying earlier is because more are better educated and choose to focus on their careers, said Associate Professor Straughan and NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser.

Said Prof Straughan: "The pressure to perform is very strong as the rewards of employment are immediate. There's a promotion at the end of the year and you get praised.

"But if you invest time to find a life partner, nobody's going to praise you."

Having enough money to set up home and start a family is also a concern for some like legal counsel Lionel Liu, 29, who plans to get married to his girlfriend in a few years.

He noted that his parents had been working for around six years by the time they got married at 24.

But he and his men friends were 25 when they graduated. "We have to spend the first three years of our working life paying off university loans, and only after that can we think about what's next."

Singles made up 70 per cent of the people in the 25-29 age group last year, a sharp rise from 50 per cent more than a decade ago.
Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, March 10, 2016

Others may prefer to enjoy the freedom of singlehood before taking the plunge into married life, said Associate Professor Tan.

Mr Robin Neo, 28, a fresh graduate in mechanical engineering, said: "Readiness for marriage cannot be rushed. I'm okay with marrying in my twilight years since I'm not planning to have children."

But for those who want children, the biological clock is ticking.

The survey shows the average number of children born to resident women who have married at least once, dipped from 2.24 in 2010 to 2.14 last year. They include widows and divorcees.

Prof Straughan suggested targeting efforts to encourage earlier marriage at those who are not dating. But finding a significant other can be awkward in Singapore, she added. "There's no culture here where you can walk into a bar and say, 'Hi singles, I'm here'."

To overcome the obstacle, she said bosses need to encourage their employees not to work late, by say, turning off the air-conditioning at 7pm.Universities can do their part too, by providing venues and funds for students to hold social activities.

Additional reporting by Rachel Chia

More leave cars at home to take trains, buses to work
58.7% of residents do so, from 54.6% in 2010; proportion of those driving to the office falls
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 10 Mar 2016

More Singapore residents are taking public transport to work, with the addition of new train lines and an expansion in the fleet of public buses.

A government survey shows 58.7 per cent of residents aged 15 and older, or about 1.26 million people, took either the MRT or public bus, or a combination of both, to work last year.

This is a rise from 54.6 per cent in 2010, and 50.7 per cent a decade ago, according to the latest General Household Survey 2015, conducted every ten years to capture the profile of the Singapore family.

Conversely, cars are falling out of favour. Last year, just 21.9 per cent (about 470,000 residents) drove to work, compared with 24.8 per cent (465,000 residents) in 2010, and 22.9 per cent (377,759 residents) in 2005.

These findings come as the Government has been ramping up public transport in recent years in its bid to make Singapore what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called a "green, car-lite city".

A separate survey shows commuters are more satisfied with public transport. The annual Public Transport Customer Satisfaction Survey revealed that the satisfaction level for bus and train services has risen 0.5 percentage point to 91.8 per cent this year - the highest since 2010's 92.2 per cent.

Public transport is the preferred way to get to work for residents in Toa Payoh, Sembawang, Bukit Merah and Queenstown, with over six out of 10 workers choosing the train or bus. In contrast, in the better-off districts of Tanglin and Bukit Timah, almost 55 per cent drive to work.

A major reason for the switch is the addition of three MRT lines to the train network in the past 15 years. The Government is also pumping in billions of dollars on expanding the fleet of public buses.

The North-East Line connecting central Singapore to the north-eastern part of the island started operating fully in 2003, and the Circle Line, which covers central Singapore, Buona Vista and Paya Lebar, became fully operational in 2011. Parts of the Downtown Line running from Bukit Timah to Chinatown opened at the end of last year.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said he is heartened by the survey findings. "In the past, even those who found driving to work expensive would still do so as they found public transport inconvenient.

"But the Government has been improving connectivity, for example, with the Downtown Line, and adding more buses and trains to shorten commuters' wait time. Overall, their experience has improved," he said.

Cost is a deterrent too. Ms Zhang Yunxi, 28, who manages customer experience at a technology company, owns a car but takes public transport to work. "I work in the Central Business District and it's costly to drive there. I would rather save than splurge money on driving."

English most common home language in Singapore, bilingualism also up: Government survey
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 10 Mar 2016

English has become the language spoken most often at home in Singapore. But at the same time, more people are reading and writing in at least two languages, according to a survey of households done every ten years.

It shows 36.9 per cent of residents aged five and older use English most often at home against 34.9 per cent for Mandarin.

Five years ago, it was the reverse: 35.6 per cent said Mandarin was their most-used language at home while 32.3 per cent used English most frequently.

However, 73.2 per cent of people were literate in at least two languages, up from 70.5 per cent in 2010 and 56 per cent in 2000. No figures were available for this group for 2005.

These and other changes in the make-up of Singapore's 1.2 million households were highlighted in the General Household Survey released yesterday by the Department of Statistics.

It also found that in June last year, Singapore had 3.9 million citizens and permanent residents, a rise from 3.47 million 10 years ago.

Chinese made up 74.3 per cent of the resident population, while the proportion of Malays stood at 13.3 per cent and Indians, 9.1 per cent - about the same as in 2005.

The use of English has been rising steadily: 23 per cent in 2000, 28.1 per cent (2005), 32.3 per cent (2010) and 36.9 per cent (2015).

During this period, the use of Mandarin at home has remained relatively stable, between 35 per cent and 36 per cent. Similarly, Tamil stayed stable, at around 3.3 per cent.

But the use of other Chinese dialects and Malay has fallen steadily.

Last year, 12.2 per cent reported using mainly Chinese dialects at home, down from 14.3 per cent in 2010 and 18.2 per cent in 2005.

For Malay, just 10.7 per cent of residents used it most often at home last year, down from 12.2 per cent in 2010 and 13.2 per cent in 2005.

The findings are in line with demographic trends, said Dr Susan Xu, who heads the translation and interpretation programme in SIM University.

"English is the main language in Singapore. People use it in school and at work. So, it is understandable that they will use English at home when they start a family, even if they did speak their mother tongue with their parents."

Ms Kate Tan, 27, grew up speaking Mandarin to her parents but now uses English when talking to her two children, aged two and five.

Said the customer service executive: "I speak English with my husband, so I use it with my children too. Also, there are many words I don't know in Mandarin. It's better to just use English instead of broken Mandarin."

In other findings, the survey shows that ever-married women in the 40-49 age group are now having fewer children.

In proportional terms, more of these women would have at least three children in the past.

Now, more are having, at most, two children.

As for families living in condominiums, the proportion has risen to 13.9 per cent, up from 11.5 per cent in 2010.

On the other hand, those in Housing Board homes have dipped from 82.4 per cent in 2010 to 80.1 per cent last year.

Four-room flats remain the most common category, with 32 per cent of resident households living in them last year.

Interestingly, as Singapore becomes more affluent, more say they do not have a religion: 18.5 per cent versus 17 per cent five years ago. It was even lower in 2000: 14.8 per cent.

However, the proportion of people of different faiths, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, remained stable over the last five years.

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