Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on Increase in Dual-Career Married Couples in Senior Resident Households
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 6 JULY 2021
Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis:
To ask the Prime Minister what are the key drivers for (i) the rise in number of married couples in resident households aged 65 and above where both husband and wife are working beyond the retirement age from 7.6% in 2010 to 17.8% in 2020 and (ii) the decline in households aged 65 and above where both husband and wife are not employed from 66.3% in 2010 to 49.4% in 2020.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
More senior residents1 were employed over the last decade. The employment rate among residents aged 65 and above increased from 17.1% in 2010 to 28.5% in 2020. The employment rate increased for both male and female senior residents, from 26.4% in 2010 to 37.8% in 2020 for male seniors, and from 9.8% in 2010 to 20.6% in 2020 for female seniors. This would have contributed to the increase in the proportion of dual-career couples, and decrease in proportion of non-employed couples, among married couples in resident households aged 65 and above.
The increase in seniors who are economically active and employed is attributable to 2 main factors.
First, our seniors have better health and life expectancy than before, a consequence of measures put in place by the Government over the years to promote healthy living, and to provide affordable and quality healthcare. In 1980, our life expectancy at age 65 was only 14.0 years. In the last decade, life expectancy at age 65 increased from 19.8 years in 2010 to 21.5 years in 2020. The average number of additional years a 65-year old in Singapore is expected to live in good health2 has increased, from 15.8 years in 2010 to 17.1 years in 2019. This figure is one of the highest in the world. Rising longevity and better health mean that senior residents are able to, and many seek to work for longer. They do so to support themselves, or to continue contributing and remaining active.
Second, the Government has made it easier for seniors who can and wish to work to remain employed. The Government has accepted the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers’ recommendations, including to increase the Retirement Age (RA) and Re-employment Age (REA) to 65 and 70 respectively by 2030. The first increases to the RA and REA from 62 to 63 and 67 to 68 respectively will take place on 1 July 2022.
The Government has also provided various measures to support companies who employ senior workers. For example, the Senior Worker Support Package includes wage offsets through the Senior Employment Credit, Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant and Part-Time Re-Employment Grant. In addition, the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme has encouraged more senior workers to join the workforce. Workfare supplements the income of lower-wage workers in cash while helping them save for retirement through CPF, with senior workers receiving more. These efforts will allow senior workers who wish to do so to remain engaged, and contribute their experience and expertise to our workplaces.
1 Senior residents refer to Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents aged 65 and above.
2 Based on findings of the Global Burden of Disease 2019 study. The study can be accessed at www.healthdata.org/gbd/2019.