Singapore

Singapore’s remarkable economic growth over the past 60 years is a testament to the power of pro-growth policies and stands in stark contrast to failed socialist policies implemented by numerous countries in the past. While some have characterized Singapore’s interventionist industrial policies as socialist-style, successive governments of the small city-state have prioritized growing the economy and raising living standards primarily using market forces rather than government control. In particular, Singapore’s system of personal savings accounts avoids heavy reliance on government transfer payments financed by high taxes on economically successful individuals and companies. In fact, Singapore has rejected the tax-and-spend model of western countries, with government spending and taxes being a relatively small share of its economy. In Singapore, the focus is on self-reliance rather than dependence on government.

Singapore

Videos

Growth in per-person income in Singapore

Growth in per-person income in Singapore

Singapore’s per-person income grew dramatically so that by 1993, it had surpassed the OECD average.
Investment Performance in Singapore

Investment Performance in Singapore

Investment has been critical to Singapore’s economic success.
Low Unemployment & High Employment in Singapore

Low Unemployment & High Employment in Singapore

Singapore has consistently had lower unemployment rates and significantly higher employment rates than the OECD average.
Singaporeans Enjoy Greater Life Expectancy

Singaporeans Enjoy Greater Life Expectancy

Singaporeans now enjoy longer life expectancy than the OECD average.
Singaporeans Enjoy Low Personal Income Tax Rates

Singaporeans Enjoy Low Personal Income Tax Rates

Singapore has a comparatively low top personal income tax rate that applies to a fairly high level of income.
Small Government Sector in Singapore

Small Government Sector in Singapore

Singapore has a small government sector compared to other wealthy nations, and spends significantly less (as a share of the economy) than the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia.
Singapore’s Policy of Self-Reliance

Singapore’s Policy of Self-Reliance

Singapore’s government requires workers to save a substantial portion of their wages in private accounts, which can be used for retirement, medical expenses, housing, insurance, and even university tuition.
Economic Freedom in Singapore

Economic Freedom in Singapore

In 2021, Singapore became the most economically free country in the world.
Singapore’s Superior Education

Singapore’s Superior Education

Singapore’s primary and secondary education system produces better student outcomes than other wealthy nations, even though Singapore spends less per student than the OECD average.

Infographics

  • All
Growth in per-person income

Growth in per-person income

Singapore’s per-person income grew dramatically so that by 1993, it had surpassed the OECD average.

Comparing per-person income: 1960 to 2020

Comparing per-person income: 1960 to 2020

Singapore rose from a comparatively poor country to one of the richest in the world.

Importance of investment

Importance of investment

Investment has been critical to Singapore’s economic success.

Low unemployment

Low unemployment

Singapore has consistently had lower unemployment rates than the OECD average.

High employment

High employment

Singapore has consistently had higher employment rates than the OECD average.

Long life expectancy

Long life expectancy

Singaporeans now enjoy longer life expectancy than the OECD average.

Low PIT rate

Low PIT rate

Singapore has a comparatively low top personal income tax rate that applies to a fairly high level of income.

Government spending: Singapore vs. OECD

Government spending: Singapore vs. OECD

Singapore’s government spending as a share of the economy is consistently lower than the OECD average.

Government spending: Singapore vs. USA, Canada, UK, Australia

Government spending: Singapore vs. USA, Canada, UK, Australia

Singapore’s government spending as a share of the economy is consistently lower than key western countries.

Economic Freedom

Economic Freedom

In 2021, Singapore became the most economically free country in the world.

Central Provident Fund

Central Provident Fund

Explaining Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) for public services, compared to the tax-and-spend model of other governments.

Education

Education

Singapore spends less than the OECD average on education, and achieves significantly better student performance.

Explore the book

Meritocracy, Personal Responsibility, and Encouraging Investment: Lessons from Singapore’s Economic Growth Miracle documents the stunning economic rise of the small city-state since gaining independence in 1965, and examines how it is able to provide many of the same social services that Westerners do—health care, retirement, housing, education, unemployment, for example—but with much smaller government and lower costs.

  • Chapter 1: An Overview of Singapore’s Development and Public Policies   
    This chapter discusses the evolution and uniqueness of Singapore’s economic and social policies, from British colony to independent city-state.
  • Chapter 2: Singapore’s Economic Performance   
    Known as one of the four Asian Tigers, Singapore’s stunning economic success is documented here and compared to other Asia-Pacific countries, as well as the United States.
  • Chapter 3: The Singaporean Health Care System: Policy and Performance   
    Singapore’s approach to universal health care represents a departure from much of the developed world in terms of design and philosophy, which shares features of both tax-funded systems, where government is the primary insurer, and social health insurance systems with competitive insurance markets.
  • Chapter 4: Singapore’s Primary and Secondary Education System: The Use of Education Savings Accounts to Fuel Student Achievement   
    This chapter examines the unique features of Singapore’s education system: Its history, its focus on competition and academic rigour, the Edusave Accounts, and how it routinely evaluates not just students, but also teachers and schools for performance.
  • Chapter 5: Singapore’s Income-Support System: One of a Kind   
    The Singaporean social security system is quite different from those of most other industrialized countries, because it largely emphasizes individual responsibility rather than collective welfare. This chapter discusses Singapore’s unique forced saving model—the Central Provident Fund.
  • Chapter 6: Is Singapore a Free Market Economy?   
    This chapter explores the ways Singapore is and is not a market-based economy, where it falls short on liberal democratic values, and discusses what lessons western countries can learn from Singapore's experience.

 

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Our Partners

This project is brought to you by the following organizations

Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

Institute for Economic Affairs

Institute of Economic Affairs

Institute of Public Affairs

Institute of Public Affairs

The Fund for American Studies

The Fund for American Studies

Acknowledgements

Made possible by generous grants from the John Templeton Foundation, the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation and the FI Foundation.

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