S’porean workers: Worst off among developed countries?


Are Singaporean workers the worse off, among all the developed countries?

I refer to the article “Singapore is No. 13 globally in human capital study, beating Japan and the US” (Straits Times, Sep 25).

It states that “Human capital is defined as “the educational attainment, learning, and health status of the workforce that contribute to economic productivity”.

Singapore’s significant improvement stemmed from its people having an expected peak working productivity of 24 years, taking into account a person’s life expectancy, health, years of schooling, and learning.

The study also found that, compared to people in other countries, Singaporeans can expect to live in very good health from the age of 20 to 64.

The IHME scored countries on several components of human capital: the number of years workers spend in school, the quality of their learning, and their health status.

These components directly correlate to how much a government prioritises and invests in the education and health of its people.”

In this connection, I understand that Singapore

… has the lowest 10th percentile wages among all the developed countries

… is probably the only developed country without a minimum wage

… is probably the only developed country without unemployment benefits

… has the highest proportion of non-citizens (about 47%) in the total workforce

… spends the lowest percentage of GDP on social welfare among the developed countries

… is the only Government among the developed countries which does not have independent unions, and the union movement is always headed by a cabinet Minister

… is the only Government among the developed countries that from a cashflow perspective – does not spend any money on healthcare, pensions or public housing

… has arguably, the weakest protection of workers’ rights among all the developed countries

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.