b) The ageing population pose a more serious threat ...than the decline in
birth rates. Do you agree? Explain your answer.
I do not agree with the statement. I think the ageing population is less a the
threat to Singapore than the decline in birth rates. I will argue that it is
easier to resolve the threats from an ageing population than from a declining
1. First, Singapore has a growing size of the ageing population. By 2030,
about 25% of Singapore's population would be aged 65 and older. In turn,
the workforce will also be ageing one. This trend comes about partly as a
result of declining birth rates. With fewer babies born each year, the
proportion of old people in the country would be higher. With an
improvement in medical technology and health care services, the lifespan of
the old people will be prolonged.
Ageing population comes along with problems. There will be more resources
needed to take care of the increasing number of aged people such as
providing them with health care and social services. As the population ages,
each working person may have to pay more taxes to help provide the services
and facilities required by the senior citizens. The Prime Minister has also said
that it would be natural disaster if companies and young workers have to be
taxed heavily to support the senior citizens. An ageing workforce may mean
that Singapore's competitive edge may be lost as investors would not be
attracted to a country that has less productive ageing workforce. Thus ageing
population calls for a larger pool of younger workforce and a higher rate of
In the short term, a shortage of manpower may be eased temporarily by
recruiting foreign talents and liberalizing immigration policies. Incentives can
be given to encourage couples to have more babies. In other words, the
threats of an ageing population can be resolved.
2. Next, Singapore has falling birth rates. This trend comes about as many
young people continued to place their career and personal interest above
parenthood. Many married couples were opting for fewer than two children.
Many also married at a later age or remained unmarried. The reasons for
parents unwilling to have many children were the lack of childcare helpers
and facilities and when women grows older, it would be much difficult for her
to conceive again. The final outcome is that replacement level is far below 2.1,
which was the target of 1987 population policy.
Falling in birth rates comes along with problems. There will be fewer young
people to serve in the armed forces and to defend the country. Another
problem is that there would be a shortage of manpower. As mentioned earlier,
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this would make Singapore less attractive to investors and there would als be
not enough talented people in the country. All this will affect the economic
growth of our country.
Although the government has come up with various measures such as income
tax relief, childcare centres subsidies, these measures had limited success.
Thus declining in birth rates pose a real threat to the long term economic
growth of Singapore as it not easily resolved.
I conclude that an increasing ageing population and a declining in birth rates
occurring at the same time is an undesirable combination. The large number
of aged is here to stay and simply cannot be dismissed. The burden of
looking after the ageing population would still fall on the shoulders of the
younger work force. In the long term, only a rise in birth rates would help to
ease the problems of an ageing population and promote economic growth.
Thus while both trends pose threats to Singapore, the declining in birth rates
pose a more serious threat as it is not easily resolved in Singapore.
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Chapter 3 : Housing
a) To what extent does a balanced mix in public housing contribute
to social cohesion in Singapore?
Yeo Chew Ling
A balanced mix in public housing has contributed to social cohesion in
Singapore. But there are other factors that contribute to social cohesion.
1. In early 1960s, different races were concentrated in different parts of
Singapore. This means that there is a lack of understanding and
communication among different races. Through public housing, the
government is able to settled different racial groups in the same housing
estate or in the block. Common facilities have to be shared, and this brought
the different racial groups to cooperate with one another. A wide variety of
activities were organized by the community centre to allow interaction and
understanding among different racial. Some activities are cooking, dancing
and self defend classes. This brought the different races closer together and
encouraged racial tolerance. In March 1989, the government introduced a
limit on the proportion of races in every neighbourhood to reside different
races within a block. Social bonding is thus encouraged.
2. Another reason which promotes social cohesion is meeting the needs of
different income groups. In the 1960s, HDB built flats for the lower income
families. In early 1970s, the thriving of the economy result in property pieces
shot up. As a result, the middle income group could not afford to buy private
homes. At the same time, they could not qualify for HDB flats because the
income exceeded the maximum income for owning HDB flats. Thus HDB
responded by review and raising the maximum income for home ownership to
cater the middle- income group. Next, the HDB also design and built flats
which were comparable to those in private sector but less costly and to meet
the demand of better design and finishes for the wealthier ones. This
promotes harmony in community. It would be good for Singapore to have
higher-income group and lower-income group so that social tension and
development of Singapore would not be hinder.
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3. Beside that, building a sense of belonging in community also contributed
to social cohesion. A precinct planning with central space and basic facilities
enhances the residents sense of belonging to the area close to their home
and helps in building community spirits. Organization in HDB estates such as
the Residents' Committees, RC, allow residents to be involved in matters
which directly affect their homes and environment. This encourages greater
participation in communal and social activities. The RCs also help to foster a
community identity, promoting neighbourliness and help develop a sense of
belonging among residents. They organized community activities such as
mass cleaning-up days and cultural events with the residents and also look
into security and environmental matters of HDB estates. Thus, strong bonds
among residents and community are encouraged.
4. In conclusion, I agree that a balance mix is important to a large extent.
With a balance mix, there is more opportunity for the different races to
communicate and a chance to help one another in needs. Therefore, racial
barrier is prevented. Without balance mix, the other two factors would be less
important. But the factors are inter-linked.
YEONG SEI MEE (12) 5-01
CHAPTER 3: HOUSING
I agree to a great extent that home ownership is the important aim of the
public housing programme in Singapore. But there are other factors which are
the aims of the programme.
Home ownership is a means to financial security and it gives the people a
sense of pride and belonging to the country. The citizens are able to buy their
flats using CPF savings and various schemes are also introduced to help
lower-income families to own flats. For e.g., people who rented flats at a
discount. Through these policies, many Singaporeans have found it easier to
own homes as they are not required to pay a great sum of money at one go.
To maximize land use, high-rise flats have been built so that it would
encourage more ownership. In this way, it contributes to economic, social and
political stability of Singapore.
It also helps to promote social cohesion by bringing the different races
together previously, the various racial groups lived in different enclaves but
this changed when the policy ensured that the different racial groups settled
into the same estate. As people in the same estate interacted, they began to
understand one another better. Such interaction being the different races
together and encourage racial tolerance and understanding. To gain a better
understanding of the various community problems, RCs are set up. The
people would be sharing the same facilities, for e.g. schools, community
centres and markets. The residents would be able to share the same fun
when participating in social and recreational activities. The government has
introduced a limit on the proportion of races in everyneighboured and blocks.
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