What’s the latest average life expectancy in Singapore? Would it change drastically in the future?
We took a greater look at the statistics available and went even further.
There were some very interesting findings.
Also, a higher life expectancy may not always be good thing, especially if we don’t properly plan for it. There are actionable steps you can take at the end of this article too.
So, read on!
The latest published average life expectancy in Singapore (as of 25 Oct 2021):
- Total: 83.9 years
- Male: 81.5 years
- Female: 86.1 years
Singapore has the 3rd highest life expectancy in the world. And it’s expected to increase to 85.4 years in 2040.
Unfortunately, although Singaporeans are living longer, they’re spending more time in ill-health (10.6 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 2020 (latest data available as of 25 Oct 2021).
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. “Life expectancy” usually refers to this.
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 (latest data available as of 25 Oct 2021):
Life Expectancy at Birth
The life expectancy at birth in Singapore has increased significantly over the years. It has increased from 72.1 years in 1980 to 83.9 years in 2020, representing a 16.37% increase. This also means that we’re living 11.8 years longer compared with 4 decades ago. When compared to a decade back (81.7 years in 2010), we’re living longer by 2.2 years. The life expectancy has been on an upwards trend and is expected to continue with decades to come.
All along, females have a longer life expectancy when compared to males. The life expectancy at birth for females increased from 74.7 years in 1980 to 86.1 years in 2020, representing an increase of 15.26%; living 11.4 years longer. Compared to a decade back (84 years in 2010), it has increased by 2.1 years.
The life expectancy at birth for males increased from 69.8 years in 1980 to 81.5 in 2020. It represented a 16.76% increase; living longer by 11.7 years. When we compare it with a decade back (79.2 years in 2010), it has increased by 2.3 years.
Latest Life Expectancy at Birth (Total): 83.9 years
|Total Life Expectancy At Birth||72.1||72.5||72.6||73||73.3||73.9||74.2||74.5||74.7||74.9||75.3||75.6||75.9||76.1||76.2||76.3||76.6||76.9||77.3||77.6||78||78.3||78.6||79.1||79.6||80.1||80.3||80.6||80.9||81.4||81.7||81.9||82.1||82.4||82.6||82.9||83||83.2||83.4||83.7||83.9|
Latest Life Expectancy at Birth (Female): 86.1 years
|Female Life Expectancy At Birth||74.7||75.2||75.3||75.7||75.8||76.4||76.5||76.7||76.9||77.2||77.6||77.9||78.2||78.3||78.4||78.6||78.9||79.1||79.4||79.6||80||80.3||80.6||81.6||82||82.5||82.6||82.9||83.3||83.7||84||84.1||84.3||84.5||84.8||85.1||85.1||85.4||85.5||85.9||86.1|
Latest Life Expectancy at Birth (Male): 81.5 years
|Male Life Expectancy At Birth||69.8||70.1||70.2||70.5||70.9||71.5||72.1||72.5||72.6||72.8||73.1||73.5||73.8||73.9||74.1||74.1||74.4||74.8||75.3||75.6||76||76.3||76.6||76.6||77.1||77.6||77.8||78.1||78.4||78.9||79.2||79.5||79.8||80.1||80.3||80.5||80.7||80.9||81.2||81.4||81.5|
Life Expectancy at 65
The life expectancy at age 65 has also improved compared with past decades. It has increased to 21.5 years in 2020, compared with 14 years in 1980 and 19.8 years in 2010. For the male life expectancy at age 65, it rose to 19.6 years in 2020, an increase from 12.6 years in 1980 and 18 years in 2010. For female life expectancy at age 65, it rose to 23.2 years in 2020, higher than the 15.4 years in 1980 and 21.4 years in 2010.
Latest Life Expectancy at 65 (Total): 21.5 years
|Total Life Expectancy At Age 65 Years||14||14.2||14.2||14.4||14.6||14.9||15.1||15.3||15.4||15.5||15.7||15.9||15.9||15.9||15.9||16||16.1||16.3||16.5||16.6||16.9||17.1||17.3||18||18.4||18.7||18.9||19||19.3||19.6||19.8||20||20.2||20.4||20.6||20.8||20.8||21||21.2||21.4||21.5|
Latest Life Expectancy at 65 (Female): 23.2 years
|Female Life Expectancy At Age 65 Years||15.4||15.6||15.6||15.8||15.9||16.2||16.3||16.5||16.6||16.7||16.9||17.1||17.2||17.2||17.2||17.2||17.4||17.5||17.7||17.9||18.1||18.3||18.5||19.6||20||20.4||20.4||20.6||20.8||21.2||21.4||21.6||21.7||21.9||22.1||22.3||22.4||22.6||22.7||23.0||23.2|
Latest Life Expectancy at 65 (Male): 19.6 years
|Male Life Expectancy At Age 65 Years||12.6||12.7||12.8||13||13.2||13.6||13.9||14.1||14.1||14.3||14.5||14.6||14.7||14.6||14.6||14.6||14.7||14.9||15.2||15.3||15.6||15.9||16.1||16.2||16.5||16.9||17.1||17.2||17.5||17.8||18||18.1||18.4||18.6||18.8||18.9||19||19.2||19.4||19.5||19.6|
From the Data, We Explore 3 Areas
Looking at the data, you may be curious about 3 things:
- Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men
- The Top Causes of Death in Singapore
- Why Is Life Expectancy So High in Singapore
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?
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, likely because of lower oestrogen levels.
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 of death.
Here’s a chart to show the number of deaths throughout the years:
From the data, we can see that the number of deaths are increasing. This also translates to approximately 57 people dying each day in Singapore.
When we take a look at the crude death rate, there’s an upward trend too:
However, it doesn’t mean that the average Singaporean has a higher chance to die now.
The reason for this uptick in deaths is because Singapore has an ageing population.
When we look at the specific-age death rate and the age-standardised death rate, they are decreasing:
This meant that Singapore has better health and mortality conditions now.
But what caused these deaths?
Here are the top 10 causes of deaths in Singapore:
|Cause||Percentage of Deaths|
|Ischaemic heart diseases||18.8%|
|Cerebrovascular diseases (including stroke)||5.8%|
|External causes of morbidity and mortality||4.0%|
|Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis||3.1%|
|Hypertensive diseases (including hypertensive heart disease)||2.6%|
|Urinary tract infection||2.3%|
|Other heart diseases||2.0%|
|Chronic obstructive lung disease||1.4%|
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:
- Death accounts for 47.51% of all life insurance claims
- The average death claim payout is $48,534.11
- The top cause of death (claimed) is cancer
- 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.
Singapore is on par with other first world countries like Japan and Switzerland which are always thought to have the highest life expectancies in the world.
In another study done, Singapore is number 3 in the world.
And Singapore’s average life expectancy (total) is expected to hit 85.4 in 2040.
This shows the positive impact of our healthcare system.
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.
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.
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.
But beware of doing this if you have pre-existing conditions.
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 now.
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 especially during our older age, capitalise on the lower cost of insurance with term insurance plans and learn more about retirement planning in Singapore.