Life expectancy in Malaysia rises by 12 years


The Department of Statistics says the continuous rise in life expectancy indicates that Malaysia will experience an ageing population by 2030. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, July 11, 2022.

LIFE expectancy at birth in 2021 is expected to increase to 75.6 years, or about 12 years, compared with 63.6 years five decades ago in 1970, according to the Department of Statistics (DOSM).

Chief Statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in a statement today on World Population Day 2022 that the continuous rise in life expectancy indicates that Malaysia will experience an ageing population by 2030, where the percentage of people aged 60 years and above will reach 15.3% of total population.

“Hence, there must be financial and healthcare planning to avoid problems during retirement,” he said.

However, Malaysia’s population grew at a slower rate in 2020 – just like globally – to 1.7% from 3.6% in 1970, said Uzir.

He attributed it to four main factors – the fertility rate, life expectancy, age structure (the distribution between young and old people) and migration. 

“The total fertility rate (TFR) of woman in reproductive age in Malaysia declined to 1.7 babies in 2020 from 4.9 babies in 1970. This was the lowest TFR in five decades,” he said.

In terms of shifts in the age distribution, Uzir said the percentage of children under age 15 showed a declining trend from 44.9% in 1970 to 24% in 2020.


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He said children under age 15 make up one in four people in Malaysia and is projected to decline further to around one in five persons soon after 2030.

“The declining trend of young age and an increasingly significant increase in old age will affect the number of dependents for working age in the future,” he said.

“The percentage of working age population (15-64 years) increased from 52.1% in 1970 to 69.3% in 2020, which is projected to decrease slowly to 66.9% of the total population by 2040.”  

Uzir said 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,” he said.

“Among the challenges that need to be addressed are the balance between food security, limited agricultural land and climate change.”

Malaysia’s population totalled 32.4 million in 2020 with the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Federal Territory of Putrajaya having the highest population density, at 8,157 and 2,215 people per sq km respectively.

In celebrating World Population Day, DOSM will be organising a regional training workshop on “Harnessing opportunities towards a resilient future through census data” from July 26-28 with Universiti Malaya, Integrated Public Use MicroData Series and the United Nations Population Fund.

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