Forum: Minimum Income Standards study does not give full picture

I refer to the article, "Family of 4 needs $6,426 a month: Study" (Oct 9).

The Minimum Income Standards (MIS) for Households in Singapore (2021) report is misleading on three counts.

First, the authors interviewed a small group of households on (desired) expenditure to draw mysterious conclusions.

An analogy for this would be for me to interview my colleagues on their daily budgets, then call a meeting with the bosses to inform them of the need to raise salaries in the light of my "scientific benchmark".

Second, the authors omit mentioning that the MIS method is an aid, not a standard, for understanding poverty.

It is used to explore relative poverty alongside the actual standards. In local discourse, these were discussed at length by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation 10 years ago.

The absence of policy and economic analysis is startling, as are claims about "lived experience", whose purpose is to surface the meaning behind content - not pass it off as fact.

Third, the angle of "needs and gaps" has been challenged in social policy since the 1970s. It assumes we already know what is best, and what the issue is all about.

For the authors, it seems to be that government intervention is too little, and incomes too low.

Were this true, it would be good to incorporate the responses from the Government in reviewing the findings.

It is critical that the public understands the MIS in context.

Desmond Wong You Sheng

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