Singapore’s population shrinks; citizens, PRs dip for first time since 1970

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Singapore’s total population shrank by 4.1 per cent to 5.45 million in June this year, largely due to a fall in non-resident numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to official figures released yesterday.

Both citizen and permanent resident (PR) populations saw year-on-year declines for the first time since the government began collecting such data in 1970, said the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), which publishes the annual Population in Brief report.

Specifically, the number of citizens fell by 0.7 per cent to 3.5 million, while PR numbers dropped 6.2 per cent to 490,000.

“Travel restrictions during the pandemic was the main factor affecting the size of the (citizen) and PR population in 2021, as more (citizens) and PRs were staying overseas continuously for 12 months or more, who therefore were not counted as part of the resident population,” the NPTD said.

Fewer people became new citizens or PRs last year, likely due to travel restrictions and operational limitations arising from COVID-19, it said.

“For example, safe management measures resulted in limited slots to complete the final steps for PR and citizenship registration, which must be done in-person.

“As a result, some applicants who were approved in-principle had not completed all the required processes to be granted their permanent residency or citizenship by end-2020.”

The non-resident population saw the largest drop of 10.7 per cent to hit 1.47 million.

This came on the back of a decrease in foreign employment from June 2020 to June 2021, amid travel restrictions and uncertain economic conditions, said the division.

Pedestrians walking along Orchard Road. PHOTO: CNA