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Family appears to be playing a declining role in Singaporeans’ journey to a better life: AXA Better Life Index 2021

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AXA Better Life Index

The AXA Better Life Index 2021 found that financial freedom has overtaken having a happy family as the most second most important purpose in life for Singaporeans.

The AXA Better Life Index 2021 was commissioned by AXA and conducted by NielsenIQ. The Index seeks to understand how Singaporeans define a better life and how they are progressing on their journey towards it. Topics and questions dive into Singaporeans and their life purposes, short- and long-term goals, progress and struggles towards their goals, and sense of fulfilment. The 2021 Index results were compared to 2019 when the Index was first launched.

Based on the 2021 Index, family appears to be playing a declining role in Singaporeans’ journey to a better life when compared to two years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic happened.

The 2021 Index found that good health (53 percent), financial freedom (40 percent) and having a happy family (34 percent) are the three most important purposes for Singaporeans. Financial freedom has overtaken having a happy family for the second spot and observed particularly in the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations.

More Singaporeans have added financial goals such as financial protection and wealth accumulation into their short- and long-term goals, whereas fewer have family-related goals. For Generation Z respondents, having good saving habits has replaced family support as the top factor of empowerment for achievement of long-term goals.

Correspondingly, a lesser number of respondents count family support as a factor that empowers them to achieve their goals.

AXA Better Life Index
Credit: AXA

Fewer Singaporeans were found to be leading a life with purpose and fulfilment

Findings reveal that Singaporeans seem to be losing their purpose in life and fewer respondents have set short-term goals to work towards.

The number of respondents who indicated they have a purpose in life dropped significantly from 75 percent in 2019 to 69 percent in 2021.

When asked about their goals, the proportion of Singaporeans with long-term goals remained consistent at 56 percent. However, fewer respondents shared that they have short-term goals (67 percent in 2021 vs. 78 percent in 2019) with the largest decline observed amongst Baby Boomers (49 percent in 2021 vs. 70% in 2019) and Generation Z (71 percent in 2021 vs. 84 percent in 2019).

Amongst respondents with goals, financial goals featured more prominently.

  • Baby boomers have financial goals among their short-term goals (51 percent in 2021 vs. 31 percent in 2019) and long-term goals (48 percent in 2021 vs. 43 percent in 2019)
  • Generation Z are focusing on wealth accumulation, a long-term goal (43 percent in 2021 vs. 39 percent in 2019)

Emotional and mental stress has risen alongside the pandemic

In the Empowerment sub-index, Singaporeans were asked about the struggles they face in realising their goals, their commitment to overcome these struggles, and factors that would empower them to achieve their goals. This sub-index has the lowest score of 41.9 and saw the largest decline compared to 2019 as the impact of the pandemic weighs on individuals.

Emotional and mental stress has risen in rank compared to 2019.

Fewer respondents shared that they were committed to investing effort, time, and money to overcome the struggles they face in achieving their short-term (49 percent in 2021 vs. 57 percent in 2019) and long-term (51 percent in 2021 vs. 62 percent in 2019) goals. Millennials and Baby Boomers recorded the greatest drop in commitment.

Many still grapple with financial concerns with the top two struggles Singaporeans face as they work towards their goals being:

  • The increasing cost of living (45 percent)
  • Inability to save enough money (33 percent)

Singaporeans are progressing on their goals despite challenges

The Achievement sub-index, which delves into Singaporeans’ progress towards their goals, satisfaction in their goal achievement, and sense of fulfilment in life, saw a slight increase in its score to 45.4 in 2021.

One in two respondents indicated that the pandemic had impacted their progress.

However, there was a significant increase in those who have made progress in their achievement of short-term goals (54 percent in 2021 vs. 47 percent in 2019); while progress towards long-term goals showed a smaller increase (51 percent in 2021 vs. 47 percent in 2019).

Millennials are the most satisfied with their goal achievement, despite half not feeling satisfied with their achievement of financial protection in the short-term and wealth accumulation in the long-term.

The results also revealed a drop in overall fulfilment in life (47 percent in 2021 vs. 50 percent in 2019). Among the four generations surveyed, Baby Boomers who were the most fulfilled generation in 2019 saw the largest decline (44 percent in 2021 vs. 68 percent in 2019). Generation Z was the only cohort who were feeling fulfilled in life (51 percent in 2021 vs. 59 percent in 2019).

The AXA Better Life Index 2021 is based on a survey of 1,562 Singaporeans aged 18 to 65 across four generations – Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. The survey was conducted in May 2021 and accounts for three components based on the concept of a life journey – Realisation, Empowerment, and Achievement.

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Featured picture: Samuel Chan on Unsplash