Financial Freedom Over Family in Singaporeans’ Purpose in Life

AXA Insurance Singapore announced the findings of the AXA Better Life Index 2021 which revealed very interesting results regarding how family plays a role in Singaporeans’ journey to a better life compared to before the pandemic hit.

According to the survey, financial freedom (40%) has overtaken having a happy family (34%) as the second most important purpose in life for Singaporeans, while good health continues to be the top ranked purpose in life (53%). This shift in life purpose is seen particularly in the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations.

In tandem with this shift, 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. Correspondingly, less count family support as a factor that empowers them to achieve their goals. For Generation Z, having good saving habits has replaced family support as the top factor of empowerment for achievement of long-term goals.

“The results have shown that the pandemic has inevitably changed how Singaporeans think about their future, with many reassessing their goals as well as focusing on more pragmatic aspects such as personal finance to build up resilience,” said Jean Drouffe, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Singapore. “We are always ready to support Singaporeans in taking steps to secure their financial future, so they can confidently refocus on the other things that matter to them in their life journey.”

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

It is based on a survey of 1,562 Singaporeans aged 18 to 65 across four generations – Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. Conducted in May 2021, it takes into account three components based on the concept of a life journey – Realisation, Empowerment, and Achievement.

Fewer feel a sense of purpose and fulfilment

In 2021, the overall index score deteriorated to 45.8. Scores for two of the three sub-indices – Realisation and Empowerment – also recorded declines whereas the score for the Achievement sub-index saw a slight increase.

Year Overall Better Life index score Realisation

sub-index score


sub-index score


sub-index score

2021 45.8 (-4.3) 52.7 (-5.4) 41.9 (-5.6) 45.4 (+0.6)
2019 50.1 58.1 47.5 44.8

Amid the pandemic, fewer Singaporeans were found to be leading a life with purpose and fulfilment, even though more have made progress towards their goals and feel satisfied with their progress.

More lack purpose in life and short-term goals

In the Realisation sub-index, Singaporeans were asked about their purpose in life as well as their goals. With a drop in score to 52.7 in 2021, the findings revealed that Singaporeans seem to be losing their purpose in life and fewer have set short-term goals to work towards.

The proportion who said they have a purpose in life dropped significantly (69%, down 6 percentage points), an indication that the pandemic could be impacting the life trajectories of Singaporeans. When asked about their goals, significantly fewer said they have short-term goals (67%, down 11 percentage points), with the largest declines seen among Baby Boomers (49%, down 21 percentage points) and Generation Z (71%, down 13 percentage points). The proportion of Singaporeans with long-term goals remained consistent at 56%.

Financial goals are featuring more prominently in Singaporeans’ top goals. For Baby Boomers, significantly more have financial protection in their short-term (51%, up 20 percentage points) and long-term (48%, up 5 percentage points) goals compared to two years ago. For Generation Z, more are focusing on wealth accumulation, which has emerged as one of their top long-term goals (43%, up 4 percentage points).

Financial concerns and emotional and mental stress weighing people down

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. With a score of 41.9, this sub-index had the lowest score and it also saw the largest decline compared to 2019 as the impact of the extended and frequently evolving pandemic weighs on individuals.

Among the struggles that Singaporeans face, emotional and mental stress has risen in rank compared to two years ago, brought on by the pandemic and the changes and challenges that have come with it. Many still grapple with financial concerns, namely the increasing cost of living (45%) and inability to save enough money (33%) which remain the top two struggles Singaporeans face as they work towards their goals. Inadequate financial knowledge (33%) has become a struggle for significantly more Generation Z youth as they strive to build their wealth.

The persistent uncertainty surrounding the pandemic may have caused some Singaporeans to lose their drive to overcome struggles in life. Fewer said they were committed to investing effort, time, and money to overcome the struggles they face in achieving their short-term (49%, down 8 percentage points) and long-term (51%, down 11 percentage points) goals compared to in 2019. Millennials and Baby Boomers recorded the greatest drop in commitment.

Progress made towards goals but fulfilment declines

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.
Encouragingly, Singaporeans appear to be on track in their progress towards their life goals even with the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Although one in two said that COVID-19 had impacted their progress, there was a significant increase in those who have made progress in their achievement of short-term goals (54%, up 7 percentage points), while progress towards long-term goals showed a smaller increase (51%%, up 4 percentage points).

Similarly, more said they feel satisfied with their achievement of short-term (53%, up 6 percentage points) and long-term (54%, up 7 percentage points) goals. Millennials are the generation most satisfied with their goal achievement, however around half do not feel satisfied with their achievement of top financial goals, namely financial protection in the short-term and wealth accumulation in the long-term.

On the other hand, when looking beyond life goals, the results revealed a drop in overall fulfilment in life (47%, down 3 percentage points). Among the four generations surveyed, Baby Boomers who were the most fulfilled generation two years ago saw the largest decline (44%, down 14 percentage points), while Generation Z was the only cohort who bucked the trend with more feeling fulfilled in life (51%, up 8 percentage points).

“As we move forward from the pandemic, having a sense of purpose and meaning in life as well as clear goals to strive for will be imperative for everyone, particularly the younger generations who have a longer future ahead of them. With the AXA Better Life Index, we want to get people to intentionally consider what a better life really means to them, and to also partner with them to practically work towards achieving their financial goals which are clearly top of mind for many Singaporeans,” added Drouffe.

Images: Envato

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