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Population Answer

Model Answer Sheet

Given factor – Senior citizens as a valuable resource :

            By 2030, estimated that 62% of Singapore’s senior citizens aged 65 to 74 years will have at least secondary education compared with only 11% in 1995.  They would be healthier as they would most likely have taken steps to keep themselves fit.  They can be a pool of people with valuable skills, knowledge, work experience and talent.  They can contribute to the family by looking after their grandchildren.  They can volunteer their services as mentors to young people or help out in welfare organisations.  They can also serve as advisers in government organisations and private companies.  Those who are healthy and able can contribute to the economy.  The government has also extended the retirement age from 60 to 62 in 1999.  It also has a ‘Back to work’ programme which helps senior citizens find suitable jobs and provides them with the necessary training such as security guards as the senior citizens are deemed as reliable and alert. They may also promote the growth of certain manufacturing and service industries.  More of the senior citizens mean an increase in the demand for goods and services suitable for them.  This will result in the growth of businesses that cater to the needs of the senior citizens.  For example, in Japan, Matsushita Electric has developed a pet robot, ‘Tama’, for senior citizens.  The robot sends them reminders at the right time e.g. “It’s time for your medicine now.” As more retirees fill up computer classes and get onto the Internet, the computer industry has begun tailoring products for senior citizens.  Computer maker NEC has developed software that will magnify the monitor screen display from 2 to 16 times to ease reading. 

Other Factor (Flipside)

Senior citizens are not a valuable resource:

            An ageing population will directly lead to an increase in demand for more health care services in the future as older people are more prone to health problems e.g. loss of hearing, failing eyesight and rheumatism.  More community based services such as day care centres and home nursing care will thus be needed to help families look after their older relatives.  Other social services such as befriender service and nursing homes for aged will also be needed.  A large pool of trained welfare staff will also be needed such as geriatricians, nurses, counsellors and volunteers.  This will add strain to our limited human and physical resources. 

It will also strain our working people as the government will have to use more of its revenue to provide services and facilities required by senior citizens and these monies will be partly obtained from taxes collected from working people.  Thus, as the population ages, the working person may have to pay more taxes to help provide the services and facilities required by the senior citizens.  In the year 2000, 9.8 working people were supporting one senior citizen but by the year 2030, only 3.5 working people would have to support one senior citizen. 

Besides, the government would also have to pump in more money to equip public areas with more facilities suitable for senior citizens such as support hand-bars in public toilets and lifts at MRT stations.  Thus, depriving the use of the monies in other areas of development such as infrastructure etc.


Therefore, senior citizens can be a rather valuable resource to Singapore provided they remain healthy and valuable in some ways.  The senior citizens can try to maintain good health through engaging in a proper diet and regular exercise from young.  This will reduce their chances of getting diseases such as diabetes and heart problems in later years which would render them incapable of working and might become a liability instead.  Senior citizens should also try to keep fit through regular medical check-ups and through leading an active and healthy lifestyle so that they might save on medical bills and be less dependent on others.  Besides, when they were young and working, they should try to increase their personal value by continuously upgrading their skills so that when they become senior citizens, there is still some intrinsic value for certain companies to employ them in less demanding jobs.  Nonetheless, finding a job after retirement might be rather difficult depending on the demand and the state of the economy.  For example, in Japan, only 5% of those more than 60 years old are able to find permanent jobs even with government assistance such as Silver Manpower centres. 

            Thus, senior citizens can be a valuable resource only to a certain extent; depending on the state of the economy, the keenness of competition from the younger workers, the demand in job scopes, their level of skills and expertise and the general state of their health status.

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