Why are there so many old people doing menial jobs in Singapore?
I am a foreigner here to do my master’s. I am from a third-world country and I thank my stars daily for being fortunate enough to study here.
Everything is so good here. But I see so many old people well in their sixties doing menial jobs such as cleaning and working at a supermarket or fast food chain.
Who are they ? Were they not able to plan for their retirement or are they from other countries?
- Singapore has a rapid rise from third world to first in a single generation.
This means that the older generation are stuck with skills are the lower end of the value chain and are unable to adapt to the current high skilled labour job market.
This trend of elderlies working menial jobs is also common among other high growth Asian nations (4 Asian tigers), called the silver tsunami.
- Many of these old people who have no choice but to keep working did not have the chance to save up. For example, a construction worker could be paid only 50 cents a day in the 1960s.
However much they could save in their younger days, it is impossible to have enough for today’s expenses. Those who are single or estranged from family are the most vulnerable.
That said there are also many old people who work because retirement for the lower and middle classes is somewhat meaningless.
Families are increasingly nuclear and grown up children are often too busy with their lives to spend much time with their retired parents.