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Singapore Government

Intergenerational and extended family ties increasingly important as population ages

Intergenerational and extended family ties increasingly important as population ages

Published On
12 Feb 2019

1. As our population ages, more of our elderly are living alone or only with their spouses. The proportion of aged resident households  among all resident households has increased from 21.1% in 2000 to 31.1% in 2017. Among these aged resident households1, the proportion of three-generational (3G) households has declined from 34.8% in 2000 to 21.2% in 2017, while the proportion of one-person households has increased from 7.5% to 13.4%. The proportion of aged households comprising married couples who are either childless or not living with their children has also increased from 9.2% to 20.6% (See Annex A, Charts A and B). These trends are reflected in the latest edition of the Ageing Families in Singapore, 2000 - 2017 report released by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), as well as the Families and Households in Singapore report (See Annex B for details). 

2. Singaporeans continue to value the importance of intergenerational ties. In a 2016 survey of Singaporeans, 97% of respondents felt that it is important for grandparents and their grandchildren to maintain close ties with each other. Elderly family members also say that they will continue to play an important role in their families, for example, as confidants or helping with physical and caregiving tasks. In the same survey, most respondents 65 years and above indicated that they will provide physical (94%) and emotional (97%) support to their family when needed (See Annex A, Charts C and D). 

3. Family remains an important source of support for most elderly persons as the majority of respondents 65 years old and above reported that they will turn to their family for help when they need physical support (86%), financial support (76%) and emotional support (79%) (See Annex A, Chart E).

4. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said, “Singaporeans place great emphasis on family and intergenerational relationships. To make it easier for our family members to provide care, we should plan ahead and make a Lasting Power of Attorney. This will ensure that if we ever lose our ability to make decisions, our family members are already legally authorised to make them for us. For those without family support, they can consider engaging a Professional Deputy or Donee to act and make important decisions for them. Community support is also available through Voluntary Welfare Organisations participating in the Community Kin Service.” 

5. Dr Thang Leng Leng, member of the Families for Life Council, said, “With the increasing proportion of elderly living alone or with their spouses only, extended family ties become all the more important. Extended family members such as siblings, or nieces and nephews can help provide physical, mental and emotional care and support for their elderly family members. At the same time, the elderly can also contribute to the family not just by helping with physical and caregiving tasks, but also in demonstrating and passing on values to the next generation. Such mutual support helps to build and strengthen crucial intergenerational and extended family ties.” 

1i.e. with at least one member aged 65 years and above.

Annex C: About the Publications
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