Penang’s Demography in Numbers

In general, the size of Penang’s population is expected to expand substantially for elderly persons. This is evidently shown in Figure 1 where the population of those aged 55 years old and above has sharply increased after 2000. The younger working age cohorts (15 – 44 years old) on the other hand are estimated to gradually scale down.

The ratio of Penang’s working age population to non-working age population peaked in 2015, but it is estimated to decline in the future due to the decline in working age share (Figure 2). This mirrors the fall in the projected working age share of the total population in Penang (Figure 3).

All states in Malaysia recorded negative growth in fertility rate. Perak marked the largest drop at 3.4% annually from 2000-2016 while Labuan experienced the smallest plunge of 1.3% annually for the same period (Figure 4). Kelantan and Terengganu had the highest fertility rates across the states in Malaysia, with 3.2 babies born per female in 2016.

Despite the low rate of fertility, Penang’s total workforce doubled in 30 years, with a growth rate of 2.5% annually (Figure 5).

In 2015 Penang experienced the lowest proportion of youth workforce aged 24 years and below. The proportion plummeted after 2000. While the share of prime working age cohorts expanded by nearly 10%, the older workforce made up an increasingly large share of the total workforce (Figure 6).

Tertiary education is also a factor. As more women receive higher education, this could possibly delay childbirth, and is expected to change the demographic structure of modern society. In Penang the share of highly educated labour force quadrupled over 30 years (Figure 7).

With the exception of Putrajaya, states with higher compositions of tertiary-educated labour force had lower rates of fertility. These include KL, Selangor, Penang and Labuan (Table 1).

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