Life expectancy at birth has increased to 75.6 years in 2021, up from 63.6 years five decades ago according to the statistics department.
This represents a rise of nearly 12 years, said chief statistician Uzir Mahidin in a statement recently to mark World Population Day.
He said the continuous rise in life expectancy indicated that Malaysia would experience an ageing population by 2030.
By that time, the percentage of people aged 60 years and over will reach 15.3% of the total population.
“Hence, there must be financial and healthcare planning to avoid problems during retirement,” he said.
Malaysia’s population grew at a slower rate of 1.7% in 2020 compared to 3.6% in 1970, in line with the global trend, said Uzir.
He attributed this to a lower fertility rate, longer life expectancy, shifts in the age structure, and migration.
“The total fertility rate of women in the reproductive age in Malaysia declined to 1.7 babies in 2020 compared with 4.9 babies in 1970. This was the lowest in five decades,” he said.
In terms of shifts in the age distribution, Uzir said the percentage of children under the age of 15 showed a declining trend from 44.9% in 1970 to 24% in 2020.
Uzir said children under the age of 15 make up one in four people in Malaysia and this is projected to decline further to around one in five persons after 2030.
“The declining trend of young age and an increasingly significant increase in old age will affect the number of people in the working-age bracket in future.
“The percentage of the working age population (15-64 years) increased from 52.1% in 1970 to 69.3% in 2020. This is projected to decrease slowly to 66.9% of the total population by 2040,” he said.
Uzir also said that Malaysia’s population is projected to grow to 41.5 million by 2040.
“Population growth will stimulate food production and dietary changes, which will affect food security. Among the challenges that need to be addressed are the balance between food security with our limited agricultural land and climate change,” he said.
Malaysia’s population totalled 32.4 million in 2020, with highest density recorded in the federal territories: 8,157 people per sq km in Kuala Lumpur and 2,215 people per sq km in Putrajaya, according to FMT.