Singapore: Millennials all grown up and now the new 'sandwich' class

| 30 Nov 2021

Millennials in Singapore are identified as the country's new 'sandwich generation', says Etiqa Insurance Singapore's "2021 Protection Survey Report", that notes that the youngest of the millennials have now joined the workforce.

The report reveals a picture of millennials at odds with their reputation, perceived by their older counterparts as ill-disciplined, entitled and overly materialistic. Instead, millennials personify a generation under increasing pressure in all aspects of life.

The report, citing published data, also notes that fewer millennials in Singapore are getting married, and those who do, choose to marry later. In Singapore, the average age of marriage was at about 29 for women and about 30 for men in 2020.

Millennials are also having fewer children, later in life with a median age of 31 for first-time mothers in 2020. While building families and raising children, millennials also anticipate having to care for their parents, who are approaching retirement age and will soon depend on them financially. With lengthening lifespans, and medical and living costs at an all-time high, the burden grows. All this, while millennials grapple with the burgeoning need to begin retirement planning.

Among the foremost sources of financial concern, listed by respondents to Etiqa Insurance Singapore's survey, are providing for their ageing parents financially (48%) and funding their own retirement (60%). Both worries could be linked to the rising costs of living and life expectancy here.

The underlying survey was conducted in July this year, gathering responses from 815 individuals aged 25 to 40. The study aimed to shed light on millennials' financial commitments and considerations when purchasing life insurance.

In just a decade from 2010 to 2020, local life expectancy increased from 81.54 to 83.90 years. As this figure rises, so lengthens the time millennials need to support their parents and eventually themselves in old age.

As millennials juggle responsibilities to younger children and ageing parents, the insurer's challenge lies in providing competitive life insurance and critical illness coverage tailored to millennials' emergent needs.

Healthcare costs

With regard to caring for ageing parents, four in five worried about affording their healthcare expenses (82%), and three in five worried about caregiving costs (60%). Few older parents may recognise the risk of outliving their savings, or be willing to augment protection in old age due to high cost. Millennials can nonetheless ensure that their parents will have the funds they need, mishap or otherwise, by purchasing sufficient life insurance coverage for themselves.

Meanwhile, the annual medical inflation rate of 10% provides little comfort to those already struggling to manage their finances. Accordingly, one in two millennials considers their own healthcare expenses (54%) a major source of financial worry, with almost as many concerned about losing their ability to work due to critical illness (45%) and subsequently losing their income.

Life insurance

Three in four millennials hold life insurance policies purchased by their parents when they were young, or purchased during adulthood. For those who reported not having life insurance, the most common reasons were that they could not afford the additional expense (36%) and that life insurance is too expensive (31%).

These responses demonstrate that most without life insurance assume the coverage is too expensive and not worthwhile for the price.

Etiqa chief marketing officer Shirley Tan said, "Our findings show that millennials are unfortunately still misunderstood in Singapore, and their financial needs still under-documented. In order to move with the times, financial institutions must begin by recognising each generation's unique and diverse needs and structure financial planning solutions to meet them. We believe that the results of our Protection Survey better position us to provide such solutions for our millennial customers, such as through our recent and upcoming protection launches."