Martin Lee @ Sg
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Singapore Population White Paper

A hot topic of discussion in the last few days has been the Singapore Population White Paper.

The three desired outcomes of the White Paper are:

  • Sustaining a Core Singaporean Population
  • Creating Good Opportunities for Singaporeans
  • A high quality living environment

In the paper, it was outlined that to meet the outcomes, it would be necessary to grow the population to 5.8-6 million in 2020 and 6.5-6.9 million in 2030. This would be the central idea that the white paper is trying to sell to you.

With declining birth rates, the population growth would have to be done via taking in 15,000 to 25,000 new citizens and granting about 30,000 PRs each year.

Highlights from White Paper Press Conference

The other key proposals to meet the desired outcomes include:

  • Encourage Marriage and Parenthood
  • Remain Open to Immigration
  • Enhance Integration Efforts
  • Create Good Jobs for Singaporean Core in Workforce
  • Complement Singaporean Core with Foreign Workforce
  • Moderate Overall Workforce Growth Rates
  • Plan and Invest in Infrastructure Ahead of Demand
  • Implement Infrastructure Programmes
  • Explore New Technology and Innovative Solutions

For those who have not read the Singapore Population White Paper, you can download it from here:

Population White Paper: A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore (3Mb)

I am sure many of us would agree with some of the recommendations like encouragement of parenthood, planning infrastructure ahead of demand and exploration of innovation.

However, I would like to highlight the danger of using population growth to achieve some of the desired outcomes. Decades from now, we would be faced with the same set of problems and will again need to rely on population growth to “grow” out of the problem.

What is the maximum population that this tiny island can ultimately support?

The day will come when population growth is no longer possible.

Instead of using population growth as a means to an end, the earlier we can start planning for population stabilization, the better.

For an alternative view of why more might not necessarily be better, you might want to read this article written by a former director of the United Nations Population Division:

Is Population Growth a Ponzi Scheme?

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