The Straits Times says

Fighting inequality: focus on outcomes

Two international reports that appeared back to back shine entirely different kinds of light on inequality in Singapore. Non-profit organisations Oxfam and Development Finance International chastised Singapore for being "one of the worst-performing countries in the world at tackling inequality", ranking it 149th out of 157 countries. However, the World Bank has selected Singapore as the best place for developing human capital among 157 economies that include South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Finland and Ireland. The Oxfam report said Singapore undertaxed wealthy individuals and corporations, and spent well below countries such as South Korea and Thailand on healthcare, education and social protection.

Its use of government spending as a measure is in contrast to that of the World Bank, which commended Singapore on investing in its human capital, which will allow children born today to fulfil 88 per cent of their potential to be productive when they turn 18, should they get a full education and enjoy good health. By focusing on certain core national areas of expenditure, Oxfam also obscures Singapore's spending in other fields, predominantly housing and healthcare and the outcomes achieved there: 90 per cent of Singaporeans own their homes, and even among the poorest 10 per cent of households, 84 per cent own their homes; healthcare outcomes here are rated highly internationally.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2018, with the headline 'Fighting inequality: focus on outcomes'. Print Edition | Subscribe