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Christianity, non-religious register biggest growth: Census 2010

Christianity, non-religious register biggest growth: Census 2010

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Singaporeans have also grown more educated, and more likely to be single over the past decade, reveals first release from the once-in-a-decade exercise.

By Terence Lee

THROW a stone at a group of people walking down Orchard Road, and you are more likely to hit a Christian or non-religious person now more than a decade ago.

Both groups have registered the strongest growth among Singapore’s resident population over 15 years old (Singaporeans and permanent residents), according to the first statistical release from the Census of Population 2010, which was made available yesterday.

The Census is a once-in-a-decade exercise by the government to detect population trends, which is useful for policy-making.

Buddhists, however, may not be too pleased by the results. While Christianity and the non-religious have grown to about 18.3 percent and 17 percent respectively, the proportion of Buddhists has declined to 33.3 percent.

They still form the largest religious bloc though.

The drop in Buddhist believers corresponds with a rise in the number of Christians and non-religious among the Chinese, with both categories seeing growth within the ethnic group.

Taoism has also enjoyed a slight increase to 10.9 percent, a curious fact considering how the religion is perceived as being in decline.

The Malays, however, have registered the least growth among all ethnic groups when it comes to university education. Only 5.1 percent of Malays make it to university, compared with 2 percent in 2000.

Hinduism has grown from 4 to 5.1 percent, an amount that is perhaps significant considering the small size of the Indian population here.

The Census establishes that the more educated you are, the more likely you will cast off religion: While 24 percent of university graduates claim to have no religion, only 9.9 percent of those with only pre-secondary education would profess no religious belief.

But Christianity remains fashionable  among the educated: 32 percent of university graduates worship Christ, more than any other religion.

Moving on from matters of faith to issues of the heart, singlehood has become more popular among Singaporean adults –surely a concern for the Singapore government. Among the 30-34 year old group, the proportion of singles have risen by about 10 percent for both males and females.

Interestingly, among the 40-44 year olds, men with below-secondary education are more likely to be single than female university graduates, while males with degrees are quite in demand.

The institution of marriage appears to be eroding somewhat, although the effect is slight.

More couples are getting divorced or separated, although the figure remains small at 3.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the proportion of married people has dipped slightly to 59 percent.

Even among couples, more are opting not to have children. Childless females aged 30-39 has risen from 14 percent in 2000 to 20 percent today.

While Singaporeans may be more cautious about raising families, they are also getting more educated.

The number of Singaporeans obtaining at least post-secondary education has risen to 49 percent from 33 percent.

University graduates have almost doubled to 23 percent.

The Malays, however, have registered the least growth among all ethnic groups when it comes to university education. Only 5.1 percent of Malays make it to university, compared with 2 percent in 2000.

The Indians are perhaps the most educated of the lot, with 35 percent having finished university compared to 22.8 percent for the Chinese.

This statistical release will be the first of many from the Singapore Department of Statistics. Future releases are expected to touch on the economy, housing, and travel.

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