Foreigners could make up nearly half of Singapore's population by 2030, the government said Tuesday as it unveiled its politically sensitive projection for a city of up to seven million boosted by young immigrants.
In a white paper on population, the government said Singaporeans' flagging birth rates -- which have been below replacement levels for more than three decades -- necessitated immigration into the prosperous Southeast Asian nation.
The paper, released by the National Population and Talent Division, said the total population could range between 6.5 and 6.9 million by 2030.
Foreigners would make up nearly half the population by then with the proportion of Singaporean citizens projected to fall to 55 percent from 62 percent as of June 2012.
Singapore's total fertility rates (TFR) of 1.20 children per woman last year are far below the 2.1 needed to sustain the native population, and have been so for more than three decades.
"We do not expect our TFR to improve to the replacement rate of 2.1 in the short term," the paper said.
"Taking in younger immigrants will help us top up the smaller cohorts of younger Singaporeans, and balance the ageing of our citizen population," it added.
"To stop our citizen population from shrinking, we will take in between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizens each year," it stated, adding that the immigration rate would be reviewed "from time to time".
Immigration has been a politically sensitive issue for the government, which had in recent years widened the door for foreigners in order to sustain the city-state's economy.
But their numbers were reduced following a social backlash, with foreigners blamed for problems including overcrowding, straining public services and driving up housing costs.
The study said the government would take steps such as expanding transport networks and building more public housing to support the increase in population.