Public Policy Studies - Social Policy | Lee Kuan Yew School |

Social Policy

  1. The Ethics of Immigration

    Author/s:
    JENNIFER DODGSON
    Year:
    2017
    Abstract:

    The number of migrants worldwide has grown rapidly in recent years, and it is thus unsurprising that immigration has also grown in prominence as a political issue: whether via the expansion of visa-free regimes such as the Schengen Area, the rise of nationalist and anti-globalisation movements in Europe and the US, or the growth of policies favouring emigration as a source of remittances in the developing world. However, while immigration becoming an ever more preoccupying part of the political landscape, there is very little agreement – within or between states – on how to deal with it.

    This case study looks at various frameworks for interpreting and categorising existing immigration policies as well as developing new ones.

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  2. Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Indonesia: Challenges and opportunities for the Future (The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy – Microsoft Case Study Series on IT, Public Policy and Society)

    Author/s:
    SUZAINA KADIR, NIRWANSYAH, BIANCA AYASHA BACHRUL
    Year:
    2016
    Abstract:

    Indonesia is an emerging force to be reckoned with. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, Indonesia is the 16th largest economy in the world with potential to climb to the 7th position by 2030. However, Indonesia’s ambitions may be constrained by the low productivity of its labor force. As such, Indonesia’s Ministry of Education & Culture (MENC), the Directorate General of Higher Education (DGHE) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has decided to focus extensively on improving technical education and vocational training (TVET) to narrow the skills gap.

    This case study is about the development of, and future for, vocational education in Indonesia.

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  3. Foreign Domestic Workers in Singapore: Social and Historical Perspectives

    Author/s:
    JENNIFER DODGSON
    Year:
    2016
    Abstract:

    The employment of foreign domestic workers (FDWs or maids) in Singapore is often seen as a black-and-white issue, with first-world employers ruthlessly exploiting third-world workers. While FDWs in Singapore do suffer from a lack of legal protection and practical support, their legal and social status has evolved over time. Equally, local narratives surrounding FDWs as well as other types of immigrants and the topic of migration in general vary across and within the various groups that make up Singaporean society. While successive governments have chosen to focus purely on the economic implications of their foreign labour policies, a lively debate exists within society regarding the rights, wrongs, advantages and disadvantages of the nation’s reliance upon FDWs.

    This case study looks at the history of domestic labour in Singapore, the applicable local legislation, and the ways in which social forces have shaped and responded to policy on the issue.

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  4. The case of Rohith Vemula and what drives Indian students to suicide

    Author/s:
    SHRIYA MOHAN
    Year:
    2016
    Abstract:

    In January 2016, the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a PhD scholar studying at the Hyderabad Central University became a flashpoint for student protest to erupt across the country. Vemula was a Dalit, a historically backward social community. He was humiliated and suspended for violence he never committed. Finally it was the closing of all options that pushed him over the edge. Rohith became an icon of resistance to minority groups in India who face discrimination on campuses of learning. India's youth suicide rate is among the world's highest. According to the country's National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) each year, 30-40 people per 100,000 Indians aged 15 to 29 kill themselves, accounting for a third of all suicides in the country. A report says the stresses of economic and social transition are killing the country's youth.

    The case study examines the inherited and perpetuated structures in society that precipitate students distress and encourages new ways of crafting education policies to reverse the trend.

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  5. The Delivery of Welfare in Singapore Rethought: A Case Study of Social Service Offices

    Author/s:
    VIGNESH LOUIS NAIDU
    Year:
    2015
    Abstract:

    In 2013, the Minister of Social and Family Development announced the launch of Social Service Offices (SSOs). These SSOs were designed to make the provision of social assistance more accessible to Singapore’s needy. The Singapore government has traditionally been prudent with the provision of social assistance, fearing that it would erode the work ethic of her citizens. By launching the SSOs, the government has not shifted significantly from its emphasis; on self-reliance and individual savings, the family as the first line of support for the poor, the community as an important ‘helping hand’, and targeting state assistance at those that have no other means of support, but instead sought to overcome the cognitive limitations of Singapore’s needy.

    This case study aims to understand the role played by SSOs in the delivery of social assistance to needy Singaporeans, and how it has deviated from the welfare delivery model previously adopted by the state.

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  6. Keeping Char Kway Teow Cheap — At What Price?

    Author/s:
    TAN SHIN BIN
    Year:
    2015
    Abstract:

    Hawker centres formed an integral part of Singapore’s food culture, and were traditionally celebrated as meccas for cheap food. In recent years however, hawkers and customers alike raised concerns over rising business costs, and the resultant increases in hawker food prices. Furthermore, younger Singaporeans seemed disinterested in becoming hawkers, threatening the survival of the sector. With these trends as a backdrop, in October 2011, the Singapore government announced that it would build ten more hawker centres, after a hiatus of 26 years. This move would increase the supply of stalls available, help push rental costs down, as well as cater for new growth areas around the island. The government also promised to test out different management models, including having non-profits run the new centres instead of government agencies.

    This case examines the following questions: “Why was it important for the Singapore government to ensure that the ten new hawker centres provided cheap food, and how could it do so?”

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  7. Saving the CPF: Restoring public trust in Singapore’s retirement savings system

    Author/s:
    LIM PEI YING and TAN SHIN BIN
    Year:
    2015
    Abstract:

    Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) had been widely acknowledged to be a well-designed pension system. Established as a mandatory employee savings scheme, it avoided the fiscal problems that plagued other pension systems faced with ageing populations, and also helped to lift Singapore’s home ownership rate to one of the highest in the world. However, against a backdrop of increasing life expectancy, high income inequality and the rising cost of living, many Singaporeans began to express concerns about various facets of the CPF. These ranged from a lack of flexibility over the use and withdrawal of their CPF monies, to fears of insufficient CPF savings for retirement, to the increasing complexity of the CPF system.  

    This case first provides an overview of the CPF system and its key objectives, then invites its readers to examine the concerns voiced by the public, as well as assess the possible improvements that could be made to existing CPF policies.     

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  8. Public Housing in Singapore: Examining Fundamental Shifts

    Author/s:
    TAN SHIN BIN and VIGNESH LOUIS NAIDU
    Year:
    2014
    Abstract:

    Singapore’s public housing system, which has provided affordable and good quality housing for the majority of Singaporeans, has often been cited as a remarkable success.  However, in recent years, it has become a bone of contention for many Singaporeans unhappy with rising housing prices and long waits for their new flats. To address public dissatisfaction, the government has been busy adjusting public housing policies, but are more fundamental reforms needed?  This case examines this question by first tracing Singapore’s public housing programme from its inception till today and unpacking its core policy objectives and the key policy levers. The case then reviews the challenges that have cropped up in recent years, and the policy adjustments implemented in response. In the final section, different policy alternatives are laid out and their feasibility in Singapore’s context assessed.

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  9. Extending Healthcare to the Informal Sector in Laos

    Author/s:
    BEÑAT OÑATIBIA CAMARA and ZHANG YINGXIN LOUISA
    Year:
    2012
    Abstract:

    In 2000, the Ministry of Health of Laos was faced with the seemingly insurmountable problem of how to extend healthcare coverage to the country’s informal sector. Laos had just implemented a social health insurance scheme for the formal private sector to complement the existing civil servants insurance scheme, leaving a huge vacuum in healthcare for the remaining 80 percent of the population in the informal sector. Health financing for this group of people was difficult due to the challenges of obtaining financing from a government with low tax revenues as well as aid from external donors, the decentralized nature of the health system and operational difficulties in extending healthcare to the informal population. By illustrating the problems and the policy options available, this case prompts readers to consider the complexity in striking a balance between the trade-offs of efficiency versus equity, expediency versus sustainability and quantity in terms of coverage versus quality.

    First Prize – Case Writing Competition 2012

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  10. Drug Price Policy in Vietnam

    Author/s:
    SARAH BALES
    Year:
    2011
    Abstract:

    In the Vietnamese pharmaceutical sector, from a situation of severe shortage and consequent widespread pharmaceutical smuggling, counterfeiting, speculation, and theft by health providers, stability was gradually regained by strict regulations on quality, but allowing prices to be set by the market under the economic reform policy initiated in 1986. However, this free market drug price policy was brought into question in 2003, when a 9% rise in drug prices during the first quarter sparked national attention. The Ministry of Health was pushed to more tightly control drug prices under pressure from the Government and public opinion. Drug price policies went through a series of revisions trying to balance the distortions from interfering with the market with the need to ensure that drug prices were affordable to the population and the health insurance fund. But the heavy burden of drug spending in the health system, both from high drug prices and over-prescription of more expensive brand-name drugs kept drug prices high on the public agenda.

    Second Prize – Case Writing Competition 2011

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  11. Radda Barnen Becomes Radda: From Donor Project to Sustainable Local Healthcare

    Author/s:
    NAEEM MOHAIEMEN
    Year:
    2010
    Abstract:

    After Swedish funders pulled out of a health clinic in Bangladesh, a local team took over and managed to cut wasteful expenses, bring in revenue and reach break-even. The case offers a model for breaking aid dependency by running organizations with local talent and a focus on financial sustainability, but at the same time, it highlights the limits of expansion due to resource constraints and land ownership barriers.

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  12. Cambodia’s Land Reform and Boeung Kak Lake: Institutions, Politics and Development

    Author/s:
    R. SCHUYLER HOUSE and ANDREW BILLO
    Year:
    2010
    Abstract:

    Supported by numerous international aid organizations, Cambodia embarked on a massive land reform and property rights program in the early 2000s. The adoption of the 2001 Land Law and establishment of the World Bank Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) in 2002, were welcome reforms and proved to be broadly successful and technically sound. Unfortunately, however, several high-profile failures, including the politically contentious development of urban lakeside property in Phnom Penh municipality at Boeung Kak, called to question the entire reform program and the greater institution-building project it represented. The problems at Boeung Kak were a direct result of conflicts between efficiency-gaining reforms and the interests of political elites – a common problem in many development contexts. Furthermore, there existed critical tradeoffs between the rights, immediate assistance to the poor and long-term economic development.

    First Prize - Case Writing Competition 2010

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  13. What Determines the Goals of Healthcare Financing Policies in Singapore?

    Author/s:
    ALISHA GILL
    Year:
    2014
    Abstract:

    In early 2013, Singapore’s Finance and Health Ministers announced that the healthcare financing system was being reviewed with a view to having the government shoulder a larger share of healthcare costs. The government’s share of national health expenditure would increase from the current one third to 40 percent, or more. As part of this review, the Health Ministry would also study how insurance could be used to finance a greater portion of healthcare costs. To provide perspective, MediShield, the basic catastrophic insurance scheme administered by the government, had covered only one to two percent of the national healthcare expenditure between 2002 and 2011. What are the factors that drive healthcare financing policies in Singapore?  And how could the healthcare financing system that was in place at the time of the Ministers’ announcements have been improved in a manner both politically feasible and fiscally sustainable?

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  14. Social Egg Freezing: Should It Be Permitted in Singapore?

    Author/s:
    MICHELLE KHOO
    Year:
    2014
    Abstract:

    Could social egg freezing solve the population paradox in Singapore? Elective oocyte freezing (EOF) is one example of breakthrough medical technology that have the potential to cure not only medical problems but social issues as well.  Social egg freezing is increasingly an attractive option for women facing infertility due to social reasons, freezing her eggs for later use when she is ready for children. This case study explores the arguments and stakeholder perspectives surrounding EOF. The context is revealing of the new government-citizen dynamic that the traditionally paternalistic Singapore government has to grapple with.

    First Prize - Case Writing Competition 2013

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  15. Rethinking the Delivery of Welfare Programmes in Singapore

    Author/s:
    VIGNESH LOUIS NAIDU
    Year:
    2014
    Abstract:

    The Singapore government has always been quite mindful of the potentially corrosive effects of welfare in designing it social policies. In a small city-state with no natural resources, the Singapore government has always feared that the comprehensive provision of state welfare would reduce incentives for individuals to work and strive, and create an entitlement mentality among citizens. The government has therefore sought to keep welfare – or financial support for the poor, the old and the unemployed – on a short leash. The levels of financial help are also relatively low by the standards of developed countries. The emphasis instead has always been on self-reliance and individual savings, the family as the first line of support for the poor, the community as an important ‘helping hand’, and targeting state assistance at those that have no other means of support. To the extent that there is welfare in Singapore, it is low (as it is intended to meet basic needs only), strictly and carefully means-tested, and residual in nature. In social spending more generally, the government has focused more on ‘investment goods’ such as public housing and education, rather than on subsiding people’s consumption.

    This case examines how ideas from cognitive psychology and behavioural economics could inform the design and delivery of welfare policies in Singapore. It highlights concepts that are relevant to the formulation, implementation and communication of welfare programmes. Using examples of social support programmes in Singapore, the case explores how such programmes should be designed to accommodate people’s cognitive limitations.

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