Singapore’s life expectancy fell for the first time on record, driven by higher mortality rates from Covid-19, which was the fifth most common cause of death in the city-state last year.
Life expectancy at birth was 83.5 years in 2021, a drop of around two months compared with 83.7 years in 2019, data from the Department of Statistics showed. Life expectancy for women was 85.9 years, and 81.1 years for men, the data showed.
It’s the first time life expectancy has fallen since records were first kept in 1957, the department said.
The drop mirrors a trend seen in the US, where life expectancy suffered its largest two-year decline in a century as Covid-19 and the epidemic of opioid overdoses took their toll on the population. Overall life expectancy at birth in the US declined by almost 3 years from 2019 to 2021 to 76.1 years
A spokesperson for Singapore’s statistics department said higher mortality rates caused by excess deaths during the pandemic had caused life expectancy to fall in 2020 and 2021.
Life expectancy at birth doesn’t predict a person’s actual lifespan, but gives an indication of the average longevity of Singapore’s population, the spokesperson said. Life expectancy is calculated based on mortality rates over a three-year period.
There were 2,490 excess deaths in Singapore from January 2020 to June 2022, of which almost 60% were directly caused by Covid-19, according to a recent report from the country’s Ministry of Health. About 40% of the excess deaths were people who died of other illnesses after being infected with the coronavirus, which likely aggravated existing conditions.
The Southeast Asian nation, which touts one of the lowest Covid death rates in the world, further loosened curbs Monday even as average daily infections rise.
It has fully lifted restrictions on non-vaccinated people in restaurants, nightlife establishments and at large events with more than 500 attendees.
Singapore will also vaccinate children aged six months to four years, with those aged five to 11 being given booster shots. It’s also rolling out bivalent vaccines as boosters for those aged 50 and older, or for people yet to achieve minimum vaccination protection.
Speaking to local media at a community event Sunday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore is ready to step up Covid-19 measures when necessary to lower infection rates and protect the unvaccinated.