News: More households live in HDB flats, albeit average size decline

Feb 11, 2021

The average household size decreased to 3.1 persons in 2018 from 3.4 in 2008. 

The number of households living in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats continued to increase, with over one million occupied flats in 2018.

However, the average household size decreased to 3.1 persons in 2018 from 3.4 in 2008, as the proportion of household with two or more generations living together dropped, showed HDB’s Sample Household Survey (SHS).

Conducted once every five years, the survey aims to gather feedback on public housing and residents’ changing needs and expectations. The latest survey was made in 2018, polling close to 8,000 households across all HDB estates.

The survey showed that while the number of household has increased, the total number of Singaporeans and permanent residents living in HDB flats declined to 3.04 million in 2018 from 3.06 million in 2013, as more people moved to private homes.

The number of family-based households also fell to 86.6% in 2018 from 90.9% in 2008.

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The proportion of one-person households, on the other hand, climbed to 11.9% in 2018 from 8% in 2008, mainly due to “Singapore’s ageing population and the relaxation of HDB’s housing policy which enables singles to purchase a new two-room flat,” said HDB.

Despite the decline in the number of extended families living in the same flat, the survey showed that family ties continue to be important among respondents.

The percentage of younger married couples living within close proximity to, or within an estate near their parents rose to 44.9% in 2018 from 42.8% in 2013.

Conversely, the proportion of older residents who are living near their married children grew to 43.5% from 37.9% over the same period.

Young married residents refer to those aged 54 and below. They comprise 22.2% of all HDB households.

Meanwhile, the frequency of visits between married children and parents “remained consistently high over the years”, with those living nearby visiting more frequently.

Around 81.2% of younger married residents living near their parents visited one another at least once a week, compared to 63% if they were living elsewhere in Singapore.

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The survey showed that “proximity facilitated family interaction, caregiving and provision of support,” said HDB.

“HDB will continue to provide a range of housing policies and schemes (e.g. Married Child Priority Scheme, Senior Priority Scheme, Multi-Generation Priority scheme, Proximity Housing Grant, etc.) to support extended families who wish to live with or near one another.”

It added that the government will also launch a series of conversations aimed at knowing more about residents’ “thoughts and priorities in relation to marriage and parenthood, and whether any of these have changed following COVID-19”.

“This will enable the Government to better support families in the future,” explained HDB.

As to family ties, the survey showed that 99.4% of younger married residents in 2018 were satisfied with their familial relations, up from 96.8% in 2008.

Echoing their sentiments, 98.5% of older residents were satisfied with their familial relations, an improvement from 92.4% in 2008.

“The extent of trust and reciprocity among family members was high, reflecting the presence of strong family ties and mutual support,” noted HDB.

In fact, older residents with married children consider their children as their primary source of support.

About nine in 10 indicated that they rely on their children for emotional support, and seven in 10 for physical support, including helping with marketing, household chores and accompanying them for medical appointments.

About 73.8% also received monthly financial support from their children, while 11.4% receive some form of support in kind.

Of the 14.8% who did not get regular financial support, majority of them were in the labour force.

As to housing aspirations, the survey showed that they differed across age groups.

About 73% of residents aged below 35 aspire for better housing, probably due to them having more working years ahead of them as well as higher income-earning potential.

Meanwhile, only about 14% of elderly residents were aspiring for better housing.

See also: HDB Assisted Living Flats: What Are They and Who Should Apply

On housing aspirations by flat type, HDB noted that the housing aspirations of households in four-room and smaller flats had risen in the past years.

“In particular, the proportion of households living in one- and two-room flats that aspired for better housing registered the greater increase, from 37.3% in 2008 to 51.9% in 2018,” it said.

The survey also showed that the proportion of households in five-room and executive flats who were content with their current flats had increased from a decade ago.

“These larger flats were able to serve residents throughout their life cycles with ample space for the family,” said HDB.

On residential mobility, the survey showed that the proportion of household that moved at least once since marriage grew to 80% in 2018 from 72.6% in 2013.

“Common reasons for moving include life cycle changes and life events. In addition, more households purchased Built-to-Order (BTO) flats between 2013 and 2018, when HDB ramped up the flat supply.”

HDB revealed that families with children tended to move more than those with no children, due to changes in household size.

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“About eight in 10 families with children had moved at least once, compared with only half of those without children,” it said.

While the majority had no plans to move, the proportion of those intending to do so in the next five years slightly increased to 13.3% in 2018 from 12.4% in 2013.

Younger households and those living in smaller flats were more inclined to move. Older residents, on the other hand, were less inclined to move, probably “due to their sense of attachment to their homes and a stronger desire to age in place”.

HDB said the findings from the SHS not only serve as important feedback for policy review, but also help them identify areas for improvement.

“They will enable HDB to better understand and keep pace with the evolving needs and lifestyle patterns of residents across different demographic profiles.”

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