Sep 27, 2008


More elderly folk in Outram, Toa Payoh

More young people live in Punggol, Woodlands; Bedok most crowded

By Li Xueying, Political Correspondent

OUTRAM is for the oldies, while Punggol is for the kiddies.

Sitting in an area where Singapore's forefathers landed, Outram has the highest proportion of elderly residents. About one in five - or 21 per cent - of its 17,000 residents are 65 and older.

In contrast, just 4.6 per cent of Punggol's residents are in this silver-haired group.

Instead, this once sleepy fishing village, which has been recently rebranded as an exciting new town, has the highest proportion of toddlers: 12 per cent of its 54,600 residents are four and younger.

This contrasting picture of urban development can be gleaned from the latest population figures released by the National Population Secretariat yesterday.

They offer a glimpse into the profile of Singapore residents - made up of citizens and permanent residents - living in 31 zones, as defined by the Urban Redevelopment Authority development guide plans.

These plans divide areas of the island into different zones, such as Ang Mo Kio, Yishun and Toa Payoh.

The data confirms what is anecdotally known. For instance, Punggol, with amenities like an upcoming waterway, tends to attract young couples, while samsui women and other elderly folk traditionally reside in Outram, which includes Chinatown.

Other areas with a lot of elderly folk include Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Rochor and Toa Payoh. About 15 per cent of their residents are 65 and older.

Those with higher proportions of young residents include Sengkang - Punggol's neighbouring town - Woodlands and Jurong West.

Sociologist Tan Ern Ser said a danger of areas with too high a proportion of elderly residents is that as the old have less spending power, retailers may be affected. Some schools may suffer from declining enrolments, he added.

One way to encourage a better mix of young and old is to give priority allocation of HDB flats to families with old folk, in areas with a preponderance of young people, he suggested.

In those areas with a larger elderly population, build more high-end HDB apartments and condominiums, if construction is part of the game plan, he said.

He added: 'Introduce good-quality nurseries, kindergartens, schools and other amenities that are attractive to young people and families.'

The data also shows Bedok is the most crowded zone, with 285,800 residents, followed by Tampines, with 256,700.

Newton has the fewest (5,900), followed by River Valley (8,400).

The figures also indicate the types of dwelling in each zone.

If dwelling type is used as a proxy for wealth, Bukit Timah residents - unsurprisingly - emerge as the most well-to-do by a wide margin.

Half of its 69,500 residents live in landed property. Another 12 per cent live in condominiums and private flats.

Other middle-class areas include Marine Parade, Serangoon and Tanglin.

At the other end of the spectrum, Outram, Bukit Merah and Kallang have the highest proportion of residents living in one-room flats.

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