Life Expectancy in Singapore: Data, Trends and Statistics (2020)

What’s the latest life expectancy in Singapore?

We took a greater look at the statistics available and went even further…

The impact of the how life expectancy affects us is greater than you think. Most of us just know we’re living longer but it doesn’t end there.

There are some very interesting findings and actionable steps you can take at the end too.

Read ahead and capitalise on this information!

Too Long; Didn’t Read (Summary)

Latest Life Expectancy at Birth (Singapore):

  • Total: 83.2 years
  • Male: 81 years
  • Female: 85.4 years

The Data We Analysed

There are multiple studies done on this topic.

A notable one is the “Burden of Disease in Singapore” which was prepared by the Ministry of Health (Singapore) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

It looked at data from 1990 to 2017.

However, it isn’t what we used.

The estimates differ from national statistics because different data sources and methodology were used.

And that’s why we decided to use data from our own backyard – Singapore Department of Statistics. It also looked at data for a far longer period of time – from 1960 to 2018 (latest data available).

The Definition of Life Expectancy

In layman’s terms, life expectancy refers to the average number of years a person can expect to live.

There are two notable ways to derive the life expectancy – at birth and at age 65 years.

Life expectancy at birth refers to the number of years a newborn is expected to live.

On the other hand, life expectancy at 65 years refers to the number of years a person who is 65 years old is expected to live.

What’s the Average Life Expectancy in Singapore?

Here are the statistics again…

Life Expectancy at Birth

Latest Life Expectancy at Birth (Total): 83.2 years

life expectancy at birth total
Total Life Expectancy At Birth (Residents)72.172.572.67373.373.974.274.574.774.975.375.675.976.176.276.376.676.977.377.67878.378.679.179.680.180.380.680.981.481.781.982.182.482.682.98383.283.2

Latest Life Expectancy at Birth (Male): 81 years

life expectancy at birth male
Male Life Expectancy At Birth (Residents)69.870.170.270.570.971.572.172.572.672.873.173.573.873.974.174.174.474.875.375.67676.376.676.677.177.677.878.178.478.979.279.579.880.180.380.580.780.981

Latest Life Expectancy at Birth (Female): 85.4 years

life expectancy at birth female
Female Life Expectancy At Birth (Residents)74.775.275.375.775.876.476.576.776.977.277.677.978.278.378.478.678.979.179.479.68080.380.681.68282.582.682.983.383.78484.184.384.584.885.185.185.485.4

Life Expectancy at 65

Latest Life Expectancy at 65 (Total): 21.1 years

life expectancy at 65 total
Total Life Expectancy At Age 65 Years (Residents) 1414.214.214.414.614.915.115.315.415.515.715.915.915.915.91616.116.316.516.616.917.117.31818.418.718.91919.319.619.82020.220.420.620.820.82121.1

Latest Life Expectancy at 65 (Male): 19.3 years

life expectancy at 65 male
Male Life Expectancy At Age 65 Years (Residents)12.612.712.81313.213.613.914.114.114.314.514.614.714.614.614.614.714.915.215.315.615.916.116.216.516.917.117.217.517.81818.118.418.618.818.91919.219.3

Latest Life Expectancy at 65 (Female): 22.6 years

life expectancy at 65 female
Female Life Expectancy At Age 65 Years (Residents)15.415.615.615.815.916.216.316.516.616.716.917.

From the Data, We Explore 3 Areas

Looking at the data, you may be curious about 3 things.

1) Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men

The difference in life expectancy for women and men is significant.

That significance is shown across 60 years of data, and not just in Singapore but for the other parts of the world too.

Why women can expect to live 4 years longer than men in Singapore?

Is it because men tend to do “stupid” things?

Let’s find out…

Doctor Kaysar Mamun from SGH explains the reasons why women live longer.

Females Have Less Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress generates free radicals which can lead to cell damage (and is one of the causes of ageing).

This oxidative damage is four times higher in men than women because of lower oestrogen levels (likely).

Oestrogen raises the good cholesterol and lowers the bad cholesterol.

And this reduces the risk of diseases during the prime time of a women’s life.

Unfortunately, the male hormone – testosterone – raises the bad cholesterol and lowers the good one. Thus, men have a greater risk of diseases at a younger age compared to women.

Higher Testosterone Levels in Males

Other than cholesterol, a higher testosterone level can bring about other risks too.

Men are three times more likely to die than women during puberty.


It’s because the higher testosterone production leads to aggressive and reckless behaviour.

Testosterone peaks between age 15 and 24 which also corresponds to a higher mortality rate in men during that period.

Causes of death are road traffic accidents, violence and drowning.

Luckily, the testosterone levels decline after age 30.

Extra X Chromosome in Females

Women have 2 X chromosomes while men have just one X and one Y.

The X chromosome contains microRNAs which regulates the immune system.

For women, when there is a genetic mutation in one X chromosome, they still have another backup.

But this isn’t the same with men.

If there’s a mutation with the X chromosome in men, it can weaken the immune system.

Females are also favoured to win the fight against bacterial and viral infections.

Females May Lead Better Lifestyles

There can be a big difference in the lifestyles of men and women.

Firstly, men tend to take more risks which leads to higher levels of stress and eventually to higher mortality.

There’s also a higher tendency to take on riskier jobs such as construction which increases the chances of a premature death.

Secondly, the participation in unhealthy habits are also higher in men.

They tend to smoke and consume alcohol more than women.

This leads to a greater probability of contracting stroke, hypertension and heart disease.

Lastly, men prefer to eat “unbalanced” meals.

More red meat; less vegetables.

Ultimately leading to greater risks of diseases.

2) The Top Causes of Death in Singapore

We’re also curious to know what are the causes for death.

Here’s a chart to show the number of deaths throughout the years:

deaths in singapore
YearNo. of Deaths

From the data, we can see that the number of deaths are increasing.

This also translates to approximately 58 people dying each day in Singapore.

But you may be thinking, “but our population may be increasing too.”

And you’re right.

To see this trend, we just need to look at the crude death rate.

This is how the crude death rate is calculated: No. Of Deaths/Population

Although it may seem like we have an increasing death rate, it must be noted that the population numbers are made up of Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents.

One thing that can cause the rise in mortality rates in recent years could be that we have lesser PRs as it’s harder to become one compared to years ago.

But what caused these deaths?

Here are the top 10 causes of deaths in Singapore:

causes of death singapore
CausePercentage of Deaths
Ischaemic heart diseases18.1%
Cerebrovascular diseases (including stroke)6%
External causes of morbidity and mortality4.3%
Hypertensive diseases (including hypertensive heart disease)3%
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis3%
Other heart diseases2.1%
Urinary tract infection2%
Chronic obstructive lung disease1.3%
Diabetes Mellitus1.3%

As you can see, Cancer is the leading cause of deaths, and by a huge margin.

We also did a study on life insurance claims in Singapore.

Here are some notable findings:

  1. Death accounts for 47.51% of all life insurance claims
  2. The average death claim payout is $48,534.11
  3. The top cause of death (claimed) is cancer
  4. The highest number of death claims happen during age 61 to 65

3) Why Is Life Expectancy So High in Singapore

We’re living longer these days.

And we’re living even longer in the future.

But why is our life expectancy so high?

Doctor Nguyen Minh Ha from SGH explains why we are living longer.

One main reason is because Singapore has better management with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases.

Early prevention and early detection of such diseases are the key to reducing the mortality rates.

Part of the government initiatives is to educate and create awareness.

You can see it in action with the advertisements created by the Health Promotion Board on diabetes.

Another reason is that the medical and technological advances allow early detection on tuberculosis and better therapies for cancer.

How Does Our Life Expectancy Compare With Others?

Based on the other study done by MOH and IMHE, they compared life expectancy with other countries in 2017.

life expectancy countries comparison

Singapore is on par with other first world countries like Japan and Switzerland which are always thought to have the highest life expectancy in the world.

This shows the positive impact of our healthcare system.

More notably so in the Coronavirus Covid-19 situation.

In my opinion, the government did a good job in trying to contain the virus.

Here are some of the things they did well:

  • Enforcing strict quarantine orders to prevent further spreading
  • Obtaining test results fast for early detection
  • Providing excellent care for patients hospitalised and in critical condition

The Significance of A Higher Life Expectancy

Is a higher life expectancy always a good thing?

I would say yes, to a certain extent.

Only if I’m able to live comfortably, have no ailments (or minor ones) and still maintain my mental faculties like Dr Mahathir – Ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Even at the age of 94, he’s still able to think, speak and move well.

However, most of us aren’t likely to reach that stage.

Anyway, here are 3 implications of a higher life expectancy:

1) Spending more time in ill health

Although Singaporeans are blessed with longer life, they are also “cursed” with longer periods in ill health.

From the study, Singaporeans spent 10.6 years in ill health in 2017. This is 1.5 years longer than in 1990.

At the same time, a person who is born in 2017 expects to live 12.5% of his life in ill health. This is higher than the 11.8% for a person born in 1990.

The main reason for such “ill fortune” is because of the ageing population in Singapore.

As older folks tend to get illnesses more often than the younger ones, and they make up a greater portion of the population, the above figures reflect the situation.

So to prepare for such scenarios, you would want to ensure sufficient hospitalisation coverage when the need arises.

2) Lower premiums for life insurance

Term insurance has been trending upwards during recent years.

It is why insurance is created in the first place and still remains a core product.

If you were to purchase a $1,000,000 term policy 10 years ago, it will be extremely expensive.

But it has become affordable.

This is because the cost of insurance has been decreasing throughout the years.

Why? As the probability of death decreases, the chances of a claim decreases too. And insurance companies decrease the premium to make it more attractive and competitive.

That’s why you pay a much lesser premium (especially for term plans) for a new policy.

In some cases, it might make sense to replace/switch if you have an old term policy.

This is because the cost of insurance stays fixed in old policy and it reflects the higher cost of insurance years back.

3) Cater more for retirement

This is the most obvious scenario.

Let’s say you plan to retire at 65 years old and the life expectancy is at 80 years.

You’ll need to accumulate enough assets at age 65 to last for 15 years.

However, if the life expectancy increases to 85 years, then you’ll need to have enough for 20 years.

The impact of this is huge.

If you think you can continue to work longer, that’s fine, but there comes a time when you can’t work anymore. Perhaps due illnesses or old age. Then what happens?

So if you’re reading this now, NOW is the best time to think about retirement.

When you start early (and even at a smaller budget), it lessens the burden compared to when you start years later.

No matter what, retirement is 100% guaranteed to happen, whether you like it or not.

May as well start doing something about it.


So there you have it.

We took a greater look into life expectancy in Singapore and saw how it’ll impact our daily lives.

The main takeaway is that life expectancy will still be increasing in the future and so, we need to plan ahead.

Knowing this information will give you an edge over others.

Some action steps you can take are to look at critical illness plans that can help ease the burden of illnesses, capitalise on the lower cost of insurance with term plans and learn more about retirement planning in Singapore.

Abram Lim

With over 7 years of experience in the financial advisory industry, and previous stints in Citibank and UOB, Abram eagerly shares his knowledge by publishing research-backed articles. Learn more about Abram