A 2016 research study by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) found that 18.3 per cent of the 2,000 young Singaporean respondents have thought about emigrating permanently, 2.9 percentage points lower than the 21.2 per cent of respondents who said the same in a similar study in 2010 (ST, Sep. 29). The emigration survey, however, does not capture the more complex motivations of moving away from Singapore: First, it only considered permanent emigration, even though young Singaporeans could be more likely to spend extended stints abroad without renouncing their citizenship, choosing to establish themselves first or to return to raise families or to retire; and second – tied to the fairly wide age-range of the sample, between 19 and 30 years old – the positive and negative indicators tied to the intention to emigrate were still tied to unhelpful or simplistic demographic or socio-economic indicators, instead of study or work experience as well as their time spent or their past experiences abroad. Continue reading
The question, therefore, is not whether children from low-income families can make it to RI, become President’s Scholars, or succeed in life (answer: they can), but the proportion of children who actually do. Mapping out the extent to which these children and their families make it and the extent to which a level playing field exists – assuming that it is equity, not equality, we desire – are moreover useful for understanding the structural challenges they face. This also underlines a second opposition to the disproportionate emphasis on anecdotes (even well-meaning and meaningful ones): That structural problems demand structural solutions, not just piecemeal calls for changes in mindsets or stereotypes. Continue reading
Any lingering doubts that socio-economic inequality is – or will be – a problem in Singapore were probably laid to rest in the past week, when President Halimah Yacob, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made inequality and social mobility key themes in their speeches in parliament.
Yet the speeches of Mr. Ong and Mr. Lee (in fact, the IPS study too) were scant on substantive policy solutions. Continue reading