Prudential’s longevity report identifies gaps and opportunities for people to live well for longer
Singapore, 25 September 2018 – Singaporeans live longer than most other nationalities1 but many here are unprepared and unsure of how to manage their extending longevity.
More than half (55 per cent) of the 1,214 Singapore residents surveyed for the Ready for 100 research report said they were not ready to live to 100 years of age from a financial or health perspective, while one-fifth said they were uncertain.
Only a small number aspired to live to 100. Less than one-third of survey respondents said they wanted to live to that age (29 per cent). These sentiments are at odds with the actual average life expectancy in Singapore which was 83.1 in 20172 and increasing. The number of centenarians here has grown steadily from just 50 in 1990 to 1,100 in 2015.3
Prudential Singapore’s CEO, Mr Wilf Blackburn, encourages people to prepare themselves to live longer as advancements in medicine and technology increase the chances of this happening. “Ageing is viewed with trepidation by some but you can take a lot of the uncertainty out of it by planning for the long-term. Taking better care of our health, maintaining diverse relationships, saving for retirement and being open to learning and new work opportunities can make longevity a very positive experience. Our intent with the Ready for 100 report is to get people to re-imagine what an amazing experience life to 100 could be and to inspire the changes that will make this a reality for future generations,” he said.
The report titled Ready for 100 in Singapore? Preparing for Longevity examines four areas that contribute to the length and quality of life - finances, health, work, and relationships. It was commissioned by Prudential and researched and written by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
1) In financial health: One of the report’s key recommendations is for Singapore residents to invest more in their ability to be productive for a longer time to ensure they remain financially self-sufficient even in advanced age. This reduces the risk of them outliving their retirement savings.
Singapore residents are good savers and have strong safety nets in the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and public medical insurance. Even so, this may not be enough to meet their needs to 100. Half of the respondents (52 per cent) said they expect to rely on a salary to support themselves after 62, which is the standard retirement age.
Addressing this challenge requires a full re-imagining of how people work and retire in the future and the part businesses play in helping to extend people’s working lives.
2) In work: Older Singapore residents seem open to change; 65 per cent of respondents aged 55-64 say they would be able to acquire the necessary skills to stay productive for an extended career.
However, to capture this opportunity, companies must do their part in addressing concerns such as work-life balance and the need for flexible schedules to help older workers sustain their energy, manage home responsibilities and continue developing their careers. Employees too need to be more proactive in actively seeking new challenges, learnings and opportunities in the workplace. Only 4 in 10 say they currently do so.
3) In health and wellness: On the health front, greater efforts are required to protect health, a life asset that is particularly vulnerable to old age. The report found that Singapore residents intend to take good care of themselves but in reality, fall short.
Only two in 10 engaged in 150 minutes of physical activity per week as recommended by the Health Promotion Board. They also consumed a considerable amount of processed grains and sugar daily. Seventy-three per cent indicated they eat cookies, cakes and candies while 95 per cent consume white rice, noodles or bread daily, increasing their health risk as they age. Such a diet has been linked to old-age illnesses such as dementia, diabetes and heart disease.
4) In relationships: The strong intergenerational ties in Singapore’s family-centric society means residents receive the strong support they need as they age. Seventy-five per cent of respondents stated they could rely on their families for support when faced with unpredictable life events. Conversely, such demands put pressure on family-members as well. A quarter of respondents say the stress of care giving hurts their relationships.
Diverse networks can help to lessen the demand on families by providing people with extended communities to help them be supported through the challenges of aging. The government’s 2015 Action Plan for Successful Ageing seeks to create such opportunities for people to age actively in an inclusive community, with the right infrastructure.
Ms Rashmi Dalai, managing editor of thought leadership at The Economist Intelligence Unit, says preparing Singapore’s residents to live to 100 will be a multi-faceted effort that will involve policy-makers, businesses and communities and residents. “Singapore has one of the world’s fastest ageing populations so it is imperative that its residents embrace and tackle the ‘silver tsunami’. This requires a mind-set change to get people to break out of the of the traditional three-stage life model of school-work-retirement and to embrace the possibility of a multi-stage life. This could include cycles of earning and reskilling and breaks of regeneration between,” she said.
About the Ready for 100 in Singapore? Preparing for Longevity report
The study titled Ready for 100 in Singapore? Preparing for Longevity report examines the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for Singapore’s residents, employers, healthcare practitioners and policymakers as people live longer. It is inspired by the book The 100-year life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott.
Researchers surveyed 1,214 respondents in Singapore aged between 25 and 74 in March 2018. The group had an equal representation of men and women.
Several experts on ageing were interviewed for this research. This includes Professor Chan Heng Chee, chairwoman of Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities and ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Laurence Lien, chairman of the Lien Foundation and Mr Christopher Gee, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, lead of the demography and family cluster.
About Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd (Prudential Singapore)
Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd is one of the top life insurance companies in Singapore, serving the financial and protection needs of the country’s citizens for 87 years. The company has an AA- Financial Strength Rating from leading credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s, with S$36.3 billion funds under management as at 31 December 2017. It delivers a suite of well-rounded product offerings in Protection, Savings and Investment through multiple distribution channels including a network of more than 4,800 financial consultants.