On February 3rd, Singapore’s de facto ruler and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew gave an interesting speech. The topic of Lee’s speech was that Singaporeans need to accept immigrants-specifically immigrant labor.
Lee noted that “Singaporeans do not feel very comfortable seeing so many strange new faces,” but urged locals to understand “why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
He said that Singapore is doing well in the economy, “but the birth rate is 1.2 last year, far below the replacement rate of 2.1.” Native Singaporeans are a dying breed.
“Like it or not, unless we have more babies, we need to accept immigrants,” Lee stated.
“Otherwise, we face economic stagnation, and worse, nobody to look after our old people later on.” What? Why should imported foreign laborers be expected to look after Singapore’s old people?
Lee went on to express hopes that more Chinese couples will choose to have children in the current auspicious Year of the Dragon.
Unfortunately, with the world economy in bad shape, having children has become a luxury that many cannot afford.
As of 2011, the population of Singapore is 5.18 million people, of whom 3.25 million (63%) are citizens while the rest (37%) are permanent residents or foreign workers.
In the last ten years, Singapore’s population has grown by over one million people—a huge increase due mainly to foreign workers.
Apparently, the immigrants are coming in too fast to be absorbed by Singapore’s inadequate infrastructure to support the population explosion.
The influx of foreign workers is taking jobs from more expensive Singaporeans. While this may benefit business, it is a disaster for Singaporeans. Singapore has no unemployment compensation or welfare benefits. Singapore does have a retirement fund, the Central Provident Fund (CPF), to which Singaporeans contribute on an individual basis. Like the United States, which has borrowed heavily from its Social Security system, Singapore has borrowed heavily from its CPF.
This explains why Singapore is not only raising the retirement age, but making it more difficult for Singaporeans to get their retirement funds even when they reach retirement age.
Singapore has a sovereign debt of US$254 billion, which is 95% of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This puts Singapore at 8th position of the world’s most indebted nations.
Like many Americans, few Singaporeans will ever be able to afford to retire. Statistically, only 14% of Singaporeans will ever be able to retire.
When Singapore’s foreign workers retire, they will return to their own countries, where the cost of living is much cheaper than that of Singapore. They will be much better off financially than the unemployed Singaporeans they have replaced.
The foreign workers won’t be sticking around to help Singapore’s elderly.