Population Fears

Copy of picture from 18th century depicting life in Kaifeng circa 1000AD

Singapore is all abuzz about the projected population growth from 5.3m today to 6.9m in 2030.

People are feeling the squeeze and complaining no end about it. Housing is expensive, cars are expensive, and public transport is too crowded for comfort. The population is rapidly aging too, and the older population above 65 years of age is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030.

Methinks we plan and worry too much… maybe about the wrong things.

The numbers that caught my eye are actually the following:

There are approximately 200,000 foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore today. These are the women (mainly) who arrive from some neighbouring countries to live and work in the homes of Singapore residents. They are engaged mostly to look after young children and do the housework, but increasingly often, they are brought in to look after older folk.

Without them, 200,000 households out of the million of so will not be able to enjoy their current lifestyle.

In 2030, the number of foreign domestic workers is estimated to rise to 300,000.

300,000 out of 6.9m if the projected population will be foreign domestic workers (otherwise known as “maids”).

The good thing about FDWs is that they allow the elderly infirm to be looked after within their own homes, at affordable rates.

The bad news is that relying on FDWs is surely not sustainable in the long run. Some day, FDWs will stop arriving on our shores, and what will families do then?

11 thoughts on “Population Fears”

  1. Don’t move to the U.S., I am 46 and we have a governmental system called social security, in a nutshell the Government takes money out of my paycheck each week to supply money to our elderly who cannot work any longer, we don’t have FDW, we have to take care of ourselves and them move into a “nursing home” until we die, the nursing takes all of the money a person may have to help pay for their stay. You cannot start receiving that social security money until the ad of approx 67, I might be wrong on that age because they change it all the time, studies who that our current elderly & disabled are using up that money faster than it can be replenished, so by the time I am 67 the money will be gone and my generation will have to keep working until we literally drop dead on the job. But then again God says that you leave this world with exactly what you came into this world with…nothing.

    So odd that I read your post today, just yesterday I heard a report that Russia is have a very hard time increasing their population and they are going to try and boost their population growth by having the music group “Boyz II Men” come and perform in hopes that it will put all of those couples out there “in the mood” for romance and procreating the population…funny idea huh?

    Sorry this is a long post but seeing how other countries cope with their aging population is fascinating, I’ll be there before you know it.


    1. Here, we are planning almost to obsession. There’s forced savings for future medical expenses, and withdrawals are carefully monitored so that there’s always enough for “the future”. The only saving grace is that the money is in our own accounts (though usage is controlled), so if we die a sudden death it goes to our heirs.
      The birth rate is low too, so the numbers will be made up by immigrants. That’s why the lashback.


      1. Oh I see why it’s upsetting, that would be tragic for your population, to have the original population bred out. I think the forced saving is a good idea, our government is already taxing us to death for military expenses, and everything else but the future. America is in terrible financial trouble and the people don’t make any money to live nice any more. Who knows what the future will bring.


  2. This is such an interesting post….
    In Canada, we don’t have affordable FDWs. I had two nannies (at different times) for my two children when they were young, but it is a luxury here. My worry for using FDWs for elder care is the patience and love that is required for dealing with dementia is not a given in most people. My mom lives with my youngest sister, bless her heart. We’ve had a number of women in from an agency to help during the day. The would be equivalent to FDWs, I supposed as almost all are Filipinas, new-ish to Canada. They are fully trained to deal with the aged and specifically with dementia, but it has still been tough to find anyone who can really manage mom well. As mom’s prickliness has softened, it gets a bit easier, but the cost is very high as well. Had my mom not had a significant investment income, she would have to be in a subsidized care home, a thought that horrifies me.

    I don’t know how your mom is, but I know that at this stage of her illness, my mom is like a frightened little mouse. I cannot for a minute imagine her sitting in a room waiting to be escorted to eat horrible food, with no one holding her and telling her it’s okay. We spend a great deal of time just holding her. She needs that. It would never happen in one of these institutions. Mom was in one for about two months while we got the house set up for her to live in. It felt like a cattle farm, with people languishing in hallways, wandering or sitting and looking bored out of their minds, even if they were capable of being in a craft “class”. These institutions, some of the “best” Canada has to offer, are the only option for most people who don’t have the way or means to care for a parent at home.

    You are fortunate to have access to FDWs, but I do worry about the risk of elder abuse if they are not trained. But training costs money, certification costs money, and soon, you can no longer afford it…


    1. Abuse does happen, but not often. Right now FDWs are cheap and training them is cheap too. In fact we are able to get hold of FDWs with nursing qualifications for a little more money. But that’s now, it probably wouldn’t last 17 years to 2030.
      Many of my friends say caregiving is hard, and though they will do it with all their hearts, when their own times, they would rather go quickly.
      I’m sorry about your mom’s experience, I hope the future is better for all of us.


  3. That does sound alarming, but maybe it won’t happen? So many countries have fertility rates under 2.1, meaning that the population is no longer sustaining itself and slowly dying off, making elder care a huge problem already.


    1. I think we will be fine, but meanwhile we are worrying to death!
      The birth rate is now 1.2, and the government is promising cash assistance to the tune of US$130,000 per child born until he reaches 18 years of age.


  4. Population is definitely an issue to think seriously about. The only way to curb the growth that threatens the planet is to have fewer offspring. Then the middle aged will spend less time caring for children and more time caring for parents. Then when that generation gets to be elderly, there will be fewer of the next to care for them so maybe they won’t live as long. That may happen in my generation. I’m fine with that. I interviewed 2 weeks ago for a job as a caregiver for seniors.


    1. Yes, there will be so few children left, the scenario will be that of Oryx and Crake? With fewer children born…
      Oh good luck with the job interview! Looking forward to reading about your experience.


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