Majulah Singapura

Majulah Singapura

By Avantika Sen

The Asian In the Euros

A few weeks ago, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), an American multinational management consulting firm, released its study on all the countries with respect to their citizen well-being quotient, for this year where citizen well-being is measured by the economic development and the employment rates of the respective countries. Most of the countries that rank in the “Top Ten Countries” of the study are European, except Singapore, the only Asian country, which ranks at number seven. The reason behind this achievement, is Singapore’s massive improvement in its infrastructure and employment, over the years. The study consisted of approximately ten areas, of which Singapore has improved its scores almost in all of them. Singapore is known across the world as a progressive country that single-mindedly focuses on development: in terms of infrastructure, management, growth in its economy, equality, employment, and so on. For any citizen, such achievements are a matter of pride and it serves as a great source inspiration that motivates them to put in increased efforts towards furthering their country’s economy.

 

Not so fast, hoss!

Singapore’s ranking has fallen 24 places from 2009 to this year, in terms of economic stability. Mr. Vincent Chin, senior partner and managing director at BCG, who conducted this study, states that this was due to Singapore, being a small open economy. Inflation, inflation volatility and GDP growth volatility affect the economic stability of a country. [1]

As a small open economy, “Singapore’s economic growth and business cycle fluctuations are more pronounced relative to other countries that are less economically open and outwardly oriented. “[1] This happened to be the reason behind Singapore’s downfall, as stated by Mr. Chin.

Can Development Buy Happiness?

Singapore is among the top nations when it comes to gross domestic product per capita. However, Singapore was ranked 34th in the 2018 World Happiness Report. [2] The World Happiness Report 2018, ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants. According to the survey, the happiest country in the world is Finland (7.632) while Burundi is the least happy country with a score of 2.905 This year, Singapore’s ranking fell from 26th (in 2017) to 34th. The factors considered while ranking the countries are: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.

Figure 1: World Happiness Report

 

But I’m Happy!

The World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, measures each nation’s “subjective well-being” by asking citizens to rate their life satisfaction on a 1 to 10 scale. The report also uses statistics like the country’s economic strength, life expectancy and perceived corruption to try and explain why one country may be happier than another. [5]

Any country’s happiness is dependent on the quality of life for the locals as well as the immigrants, and the same goes for Singapore, too. The rise in the taxes, hike in the living costs, stagnation or decline in the income levels, are the main reasons behind the unhappiness of the people. The closeness of the rankings shows that the happiness of immigrants depends predominantly on the quality of life where they now live, illustrating a general pattern of convergence. Happiness can change, and does change, according to the quality of the society in which people live. Immigrant happiness, like that of the locally born, depends on a range of features of the social fabric, extending far beyond the higher incomes traditionally thought to inspire and reward migration. The countries with the happiest immigrants are not the richest countries, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives. [2]

Singapore has left no stone unturned in improving its GDP per capita. Singapore home ownership rate increased from 58.8 percent in 1980 to 90.9 percent in 2016. It is higher than any country occupying the top 25 spots of the World Happiness Index. This has caused a lot of fear and anxiety amongst the people. [4] Creating more job opportunities (especially for the immigrants) and lowering the home ownership rates [4] can perhaps reduce the stress levels and make the citizens happier.

The Secret to True Happiness

Growth means money, not happiness or sustainability. Well-being cannot only be measured in terms of economic growth. The happiness of the citizens also plays a major role in the prosperity of a country. After all, a country should put in as much effort into improving the well-being and morale of its citizens as it puts into improving its gross domestic product, because happy citizens are the greatest assets any country can have. [3]

 

 

 

 

References:

  1. The Straits Times. (2018). Singapore ranks 7th for citizen well-being: Study. [online] Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-ranks-7th-for-citizen-well-being-study [Accessed 23rd July. 2018]
  2. The Online Citizen. (2018). Singapore ranked 34th in World Happiness Report 2018, Finland takes top position. [online] Available at: https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/03/16/singapore-ranked-34th-in-world-happiness-report-2018-finland-takes-top-position/ [Accessed 23rd July. 2018]
  3. The Straits Times. (2018). Focus equally on citizen well-being and economic growth. [online] Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/focus-equally-on-citizen-well-being-and-economic-growth [Accessed 23rd July. 2018]
  4. Property Soul. (2018). Is property the reason why Singapore is not among the happiest countries in the world. [online] Available at: https://www.propertysoul.com/2018/03/27/singapore-not-happiest-country/ [Accessed 23rd July. 2018]
  5. Today Online. (2017). Singapore falls 4 spots in World Happiness Report to 26th. [online] Available at: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-falls-4-spots-world-happiness-report-no-26 [Accessed 23rd July. 2018]
  6. Taiwan Today. (2018). Taiwan achieves best-ever ranking in World Happiness Report. [online] Available at: https://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=10,10&post=131007 [Accessed 23rd July. 2018]