Economic Growth, Paternalism and Nation Building: Social Development in Singapore

  • Kwong-Leung Tang
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 5)


Singapore is an affluent city-state. Though it just has a small population of 3 million, it has enjoyed very successful economic development in the last twenty years. Along with Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, it has contributed to the East Asian miracle. Since 1960s, its growth has been “staggering” (Berger, 1986), consistently averaging 8% in the last three decades. In terms of per capita income, it is the second in Asia, after Japan. Its per capita was US$26,400 on a nominal basis and US$23,400 on a purchasing-power-parity basis in 1995. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (1997), Singapore is ranked high in the Per Capita Index: 15 out of 175 countries. Because of such impressive growth record, its social development has often been taken for granted. Often, it is difficult to gauge the actual extent of social development claim since most developed Asian countries either lack (or refuse to publish) reliable statistics. Based on statistics from international organizations and estimates from local scholars, this chapter will look at some indicators of social development and pose the questions what are the level of social development in Singapore and whether social development in this city-state has synchronized with its rapid economic development? It will look at several areas of rising concern: poverty, inequality, and gender equality. The role of the state in enhancing social development will be discussed at the end.


Social Development Public Housing Human Development Index Unemployment Insurance United Nations Development Programme 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

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  • Kwong-Leung Tang

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