SINGAPORE — Official figures revealed a new demographic conundrum in Singapore last year: the birth rate hit a record low while the number of yearly deaths peaked at its highest since 1960.
According to data released by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the number of live births dropped by 7.9%, from 38,672 in 2021 to 35,605 in 2022.
Simultaneously, the country registered a total of 26,891 deaths, marking a 10.7% increase from 2021 and the highest annual death count in over six decades.
The Report on Registration of Births and Deaths highlighted other significant trends. First-time mothers are becoming older, with the median age rising from 30.6 years in 2018 to 31.9 years in 2022.
This figure, however, remains relatively stable for mothers giving birth to their second and subsequent children. The data also revealed an increasing proportion of university-educated women amongst first-time mothers, up to 63.6% in 2022 from 58% in 2017.
These figures are part of a broader demographic issue facing Singapore – the declining birth rates and ageing population.
With the total fertility rate (TFR) at an all-time low of 1.05 last year, the government has rolled out measures to incentivise marriage and parenthood, including housing priorities for first-time families and young couples, as well as increased cash gifts, grants, and extended paternity leave.
Meanwhile, the rising death toll is linked to Singapore’s rapidly ageing population. Leading causes of death include cancerous tumours, heart and hypertensive diseases, which together accounted for almost half of all deaths in 2022.
Lung and respiratory diseases, as well as cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke and aneurysms, were also significant causes of mortality.
Interestingly, the proportion of deaths attributed to lung and respiratory diseases rose by 1.8% from 2021, while deaths due to cancerous tumours dropped by 2.5%.
Death from unnatural causes, including accidents and suicides, made up 3.3% of the total fatalities.
Worryingly, the non-profit suicide prevention centre Samaritans of Singapore reported a grim milestone in 2022: the highest number of suicides since 2000, totaling 476.