Demographic and Lifestyle Developments Ageing population – The population of elderly residents aged 65 years and above increased 1.5% from 2000, building up to 8.7% of total population in 2008 (Singapore Department of Statistics, 2010a). During the same period, a contrasting decline in the population of residents aged below 15 years was recorded, developing into a higher old-age support ratio and a fast ageing nation. The growing phenomenon is due to a lower reproduction rate and increased life expectancy which are characteristics of a developed nation. People also tend to marry later and a lower reproduction rate from adopting a single child mentality in order to have a more enjoyable lifestyle and ability to provide more for the single child.
Affluent lifestyle – The rise in job opportunities and higher salary positions over the last decade have steered the working class population towards a more affluent lifestyle. The average employed households income increased from $5097 in 1999 to $7549 in 2009 (Singapore Department of Statistics, 2010b). This significant increase armed the working 1
population with a higher disposable income. They began to lead a more affluent lifestyle consuming goods and services of higher values amid the growing burdens of owning an accommodation and private transportation of their own. The following section will now examine the changes developing from the shifts highlighted above.
Socio-Cultural Trends Health awareness lifetstyle – The population has enjoyed a wide variety of foods stemming from the multi-racial society that Singapore embraces. It also has easy access to processed foods resulting from the rapid growth of the nation. Ironically, the accompanying higher old-age support ratio ‘encouraged’ the nation into adopting a healthier lifestyle. The young working adults learnt that a healthier lifestyle is critical in order for them to carry on working longer and provide for their dependents. The elderly painfully realized that chronic illnesses in Singapore carry a high burden to their next generation. This prompted them to follow the footsteps in adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Health issues in foods ranging from the toxic chemicals found in farmed salmon to lesser pesticide residues in organic foods educated the mass about the benefits of healthy consumption. The Singapore government introduced a Nutrition Labelling Programme (NLP) in 1998 which is welcomed by both food companies and consumers. Products meeting certain nutritional standards are allowed to display a Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) as shown in Figure 1 which relates to healthier foods. The consumer is endowed with the appropriate information to make better informed choices.
Figure 1: HCS from the NLP Despite the higher costs associated with such offerings, the more affluent population realized the pros outweigh the cons in the long run. It also enhances the image of consumers as knowledgeable about health and looked upon as trendy people. The nation is adopting the healthier eating lifestyle both from a practical and superficial standpoint.
Refined living – Singapore has given its population a higher disposable income over the...