I have an existing type example_type with values a,b, and c.

Up until now, there was a nullable column that used the above type. (default value of that column was null)

I am trying to write a migration that should eventually set the default value for that column to be example_type.c.

First of all, I executed the following query:

ALTER TABLE example_table 
ALTER COLUMN example_column 
SET DATA TYPE example_type;

Now I am trying to set the default value of that type to be c with:

ALTER TYPE example_type 
SET DEFAULT example_type.c;

Which fails on ERROR: syntax error at or near "DEFAULT"

I looked around ALTER TYPE docs and found nothing related to setting a default value.

Is there another way to approach this?


I also tried to set a default value for the column itself with:

ALTER TABLE example_table
ALTER COLUMN example_column 
SET DEFAULT example_type.c;

which resulted in : ERROR: cannot use column reference in DEFAULT expression

The type was originally created with:

CREATE TYPE example_type AS ENUM('a', 'b', 'c');
  • You can only set defaults for columns or domains, not for types.
    – user1822
    Mar 6, 2023 at 14:25
  • @a_horse_with_no_name I also tried to set a default for the column itself and it failed for a different reason, see edit. Mar 6, 2023 at 14:28
  • Well, as the error message says: a default value must be a constant. You can't reference other columns for defaults.
    – user1822
    Mar 6, 2023 at 14:30
  • meaning there's no way to set a column's default value to a type's value? The only workaround is putting the actual const value of example_type.c? Mar 6, 2023 at 14:32
  • A type has no value, so your question doesn't really make sense to me.
    – user1822
    Mar 6, 2023 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


The correct syntax to set the default value for an enum type is

ALTER TABLE tab ALTER col SET DEFAULT CAST ('c' AS example_type);

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