Singapore’s Welfare Model

Singapore’s Welfare Model, by Garrett Kehr.

The leviathan created by the modern welfare state is one of the gravest threats facing the American republican system …

The tiny nation of Singapore has dazzled economists and pundits since it gained its independence from Great Britain. By embracing free market principles Singapore has raised its per capita income from $500 to over $52,000 in the short time it has been free of colonial shackles. …

Since its inception, the state has taken a hard stance on handouts. The government’s longtime approach has been underpinned by the idea that universal benefits are “wasteful and inequitable” and has chosen to base their safety net on social pressures.

Singapore’s philosophy on welfare follows three basic principles: each generation should pay its own way, each family should pay its own way, and each individual should pay his or her own way. These aren’t just guidelines. The legislators codified the importance of family reliance by enabling seniors to file litigation against their children if they refuse to support them.

In addition to heavy social pressures, the state also requires compulsory savings for retirement, housing, and other items deemed social necessities. By requiring employers and employees to designate money for individual “rainy day funds” the government ensures that citizens have money when in need while simultaneously avoiding onerous taxes and bureaucracy that accompany the American and European models.