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Background to Research

By 2050, the proportion of its population aged 65 and older is projected to reach 58%, or more than one in every two Singaporeans.

With rising longevity and low fertility rate, Singapore has one of the fastest ageing populations in the world. By 2050, it is projected that the city-state’s age-dependency ratio — the proportion of older people (65 years and above) to working-age people (15 to 64 years) — will quadruple from 14% to 58% in less than two generations, a projection exceeded only by Japan (70%) and Korea (61%) within the same time period.[1].

Singapore is not alone in facing the challenges of increasing healthcare costs, over-investment of older people in their housing assets and lack of retirement savings. In fact, these issues can be found in most developed economies, even if they do not face them in the stark way that Singapore does. This presents a complex, multi-faceted challenge for Singapore, especially when it comes to economic consequences. It is pertinent then, to find out just how well Singaporeans are able to cope with the financial demands and risks associated with ageing on this scale.

The Goal

The goal of the Centre for Research on the Economics of Ageing (CREA) is to have a more detailed understanding of Singapore’s ageing situation. To do so, it is conducting a long-term study based on a specially selected group of participants, known as the Singapore Life Panel® (SLP), which is made up of a population-representative probability sample of about 11,000 households. At the same time, the Centre is examining Singapore’s policy frameworks for health, housing and pension — how they influence retirement adequacy and how policy changes, including new policies, could lead to improved outcomes as more Singaporeans move into retirement.

The Team

Bringing an international research team together and central to the operations of the Centre is Professor Bryce Hool, Director of CREA and Dean of the School of Economics. Professor Hool provides guidance and oversight on engagement with external parties, which include key local stakeholders, government agencies, industry and international organisations.

Working on the research is a team of capable and dedicated academics and researchers, with a wealth of experience in the areas of healthcare, pension and housing.

Professor Rhema Vaithianathan is an expert in health economics, experienced in using hospital data and modelling healthcare issues, while Professor Denis Leung is an expert on survey data methodology, widely cited for his collaborative health research; Professor Phang Sock Yong is an expert on housing issues internationally and in Singapore and her expertise is important for survey design, modelling and analysis on housing data; Professor Benedict Koh is an expert on Singapore’s pension system and has worked on numerous pension research issues.

Also collaborating on the study are Professor Michael Hurd and Professor Susann Rohwedder from RAND Center for the Study of Ageing, as well as Professor Olivia S. Mitchell from the Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania. As part of the research team, they contribute their expertise and experience in survey methodology and empirical analysis, particularly for large-scale studies on health and retirement.

On the team, with expertise and vast experiences in analysing high-frequency and mixed-frequency longitudinal panel data in this research study, are distinguished econometricians, Professor Yu Jun and Professor Peter Philips. Professor Tse Yiu Kuen, also a highly published econometrician, looks into the analysis on pension instruments and risk, as well as options for monetising housing.

For the full list of CREA researchers, click here.