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Behind the Shiny Facade of Prosperity. Poverty and Social Insecurity in Singaporel


  • Rolf Jordan


Singapore is well known for its advanced economy, and its prosperity is most visible in its high-rise architecture and huge shopping malls. While this image dominates the self-perception of the city-state as well as the international image of this ‘Tropical City of Excellence’, rising social disparities remain unseen. Singapore’s inflation has just hit a 26-year high, staying at more than 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2008. Oil costs have continued to surge, and soaring food prices have hit poor households hard, as can be seen by the queues at the Singapore Buddhist Lodge, which serves daily free meals to the needy. In recent years Singapore has seen a drop in wages, mainly for those with lower skills, and income disparities have been on the rise since the late 1990s. It is mainly these low-income earners who see themselves as facing sharp competition with migrant workers from China, who already make up one-third of Singapore’s labour force. While the government still rejects subsidies or welfare schemes for the needy, the increased cost of living and declining household incomes, even among the middle class, may threaten the legitimacy of the ruling People’s Action Party.

Suggested Citation

  • Rolf Jordan, 2008. "Behind the Shiny Facade of Prosperity. Poverty and Social Insecurity in Singaporel," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 27(4), pages 65-74.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:soaktu:v:27:y:2008:i:4:p:65-74

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gerke, Solvay & Evers, Hans-Dieter, 2011. "Looking East, looking West: Penang as a knowledge hub," MPRA Paper 33980, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Evers, Hans-Dieter, 2011. "Penang as a knowledge hub," MPRA Paper 31763, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Evers, Hans-Dieter & Gerke, Solvay & Menkhoff, Thomas, 2010. "Knowledge Clusters and Knowledge Hubs: Designing Epistemic Landscapes for Development," MPRA Paper 33956, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Oct 2011.
    4. Evers, Hans-Dieter & Nordin, Ramli, 2012. "The symbolic universe of Cyberjaya, Malaysia," MPRA Paper 39210, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Michael E. Porter, 2000. "Location, Competition, and Economic Development: Local Clusters in a Global Economy," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 14(1), pages 15-34, February.
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