Only 29 per cent of Singapore residents want to live to 100: survey

Only 29 per cent of Singapore residents want to live to 100: survey
(Getty Images file photo)

Only less than one in three Singapore residents (29 per cent) wanted to live to the age of 100, according to survey findings released on Tuesday (25 September).

More than half (55 per cent) of those surveyed for the “Ready for 100” research report said they were not ready to live to the age of 100, citing finances and health as the reasons.

“These sentiments are at odds with the actual average life expectancy in Singapore which was 83.1 in 2017 and increasing. The number of centenarians here has grown steadily from just 50 in 1990 to 1,100 in 2015,” said Prudential Singapore, which commissioned the survey.

Singapore’s average life expectancy is the third-highest behind Switzerland and Japan, according to statistics from the 2017 World Health Statistics report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The survey, researched and written by The Economist Intelligence Unit, examined four areas that contributed to the length and quality of life: finances, health, work, and relationships.

A total of 1,214 residents – with equal representation of men and women – in Singapore aged between 25 and 74 were surveyed in March.

While 78 per cent of the respondents stated that they save money, more than half of the respondents expressed a strong reliance on salary as a means to help support them after the minimum retirement age of 62.

Six out of 10 Singapore residents felt they either have the skills or are able to acquire the skills they need to work as long as they want. About a fifth (21 per cent) of them expressed interest in pursuing a passion beyond the age of 62, while 31 per cent wants to go into volunteer work.

In the area of health, only two out of 10 surveyed exercise the recommended five or more days a week while over nine out of 10 eat processed white rice, noodles, and bread daily. About 73 per cent eat sugar and sweets daily with 69 per cent consuming sugary drinks daily.

As Singapore has one of the world’s fastest aging populations, it is imperative that residents embrace and tackle the “silver tsunami”, said Rashmi Dalai, managing editor of thought leadership at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“This requires a mindset change to get people to break out of the of the traditional three-stage life model of school-work-retirement and to embrace the possibility of a multi-stage life. This could include cycles of earning and reskilling and breaks of regeneration between,” she added.

The survey also found that almost four out of five have at least one dependent, of whom 57 per cent are responsible for one aging parent.

In addition, 24 per cent say caretaking responsibilities interfere with their relationships, with 62 per cent citing immediate family as a community they are most engaged in. Singapore residents also engage in the community less (12 per cent) than older people in other countries like America (24 per cent).

Wilf Blackburn, CEO Prudential Singapore stressed that it is not just about saving more for old age, but to ensure that people “continue to re-skill themselves” and recognise that “knowledge has a very, very short lifespan these days”.

Two of the report’s key recommendations are for Singapore residents to broaden social and professional networks as well as to invest more in their ability to be productive to ensure they remain financially self-sufficient even in advanced age.

“But in order for us to capture these opportunities for everyone (beyond 62), companies must do much more to address concerns, particularly people’s desires for work-life balance and flexible schedules,” he added. “Most companies in Singapore are not ready for it…companies need to recognise people’s desire to continue working and be productive.”

Other Singapore stories:

NDR 2018: Healthcare package launched for Singaporeans born in 1950s

NDR 2018: CHAS extended to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions

Eldercare workers in Singapore paid the lowest among 5 Asia Pacific economies: study

NTUC chief Ng Chee Meng calls on more employers to raise workers’ retirement age