Retiree households among the poorest in Singapore

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The Household Expenditure Survey presents a grim picture of retiree households, where nobody is working and everyone is over 60.  They are poorer than the poor. Even with CPF and help from the government, family and friends, their average income is less than the poorest 20 per cent households’.

While the poorest 20 per cent households had an average monthly income of 2.020 Singapore dollars (about $1,600) in 2012/13, the average retiree household’s was considerably less – not even S$2,000.

Retiree households’average monthly income
Retiree households’average monthly income

The survey report says:

“A retiree household received $1,740 on average a month in non-work income, including contributions from relatives and friends not staying with them, investment and rental income, social assistance and regular government transfers, annuities and monthly payouts from CPF, etc.”

And since a retiree household is defined in the report as one with no working member, that was their only income – S$1,740 on average.

That’s hardly enough in Singapore.

The poorest 20 per cent households’ average monthly expenditure – S$2,231 – was higher than their income: S$2,020.

So how were the retiree households coping? Barely. Their average monthly expenditure was S$1,697 – only S$40 less than their monthly income.

Of course, there were rich retirees and well-off retirees – people ageing happily and gracefully, as shown in television ads. But they were a minority.

Retirees made up:

  • Only 0.9 per cent of the richest 20 per cent households, who had an average monthly income of S$24,544.
  • 1.2 per cent of the second highest income group (average monthly income of S$12, 270)
  • 2 per cent of the third (S$8,378)
  • 4 per cent of the fourth (S$5,299).

The majority were in the poorest income group, the bottom 20 per cent.

Retirees made up almost a quarter – 24.5 per cent – of the poorest 20 per cent.

The proportion of retiree households is increasing, up from 5.1 per cent in 2007/8 to 6.5 per cent in 2012/13.

There were nearly 627,000 Singapore residents aged 60 or more in June 2013 when the total number of residents was 3.8 million. Another 281,000 residents were 55 to 59 years old, according to the Department of Statistics, Singapore.

Fortunately, the retirement age has been increased. For the Household Expenditure Survey makes awfully clear the lot of the retiree households.

You can download the report from the website of  the Department of Statistics, which conducted the survey.

TISG thanks the author Abhijit Nag for allowing us to republish this article and it was first published here.

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