Ongoing Research Projects

Ongoing Research Projects

Research at the LKY School addresses real-world policy challenges and explores and advances theoretical concepts across four broad areas: Policy Studies, Public Management and Governance; Social Policy; International Relations and Global Governance; and Economic Development and Competitiveness.

Our research is supported by a variety of sources, including highly competitive external grants from local and international funders.

Social Policy

Academics in this cluster offer a unique Asian perspective and insights from Singapore on specific areas such as Education, Fertility, Health and Pension Reform.

Grant Period : Mar 2016 to Mar 2020

Faculty : TAN, Poh Lin

Currently, Singapore’s total fertility rate stands at 1.25, far below the level needed for population replacement. One of the reasons why Singapore has such a low fertility rate is that the average age at childbearing is relatively high. Higher ages at childbearing are associated with higher risk of underachieving intended fertility, due to lower biological fertility as well as unforeseen changes in marital status or desired family size.

This study explores the determinants of ages at childbearing among married couples in Singapore. First, it investigates how long couples typically wait after marriage before attempting to conceive their first child, and factors underlying this decision. Next, it investigates the frequency of coital activity among couples trying to conceive, and factors underlying this variable. Third, it conducts a randomized controlled trial to investigate whether providing free ovulation predictor kits increases the probability of pregnancy among married women who are trying to conceive. Ovulation predictor kits allow women to identify their most fertile days of the month more accurately, so that they are able to schedule coital activity and increase the probability of pregnancy within a given cycle.

Grant Period : Mar 2018 to Feb 2021

Faculty : FONG, Joelle H.

The demographic transition is one of the biggest challenges facing decision-makers and policymakers not only in Asia, but also around the globe. Ageing populations are associated with higher social expenditure in a number of areas, the two most prominent being pensions and healthcare. This project (a collection of six essays) focuses – squarely – on these two areas of economic activity that are of particular importance to the demographic transition.

How pension systems are organized and the economic, institutional and social factors influencing the development of pension arrangements determine to a large extent whether public pension systems can adequately respond to the ageing challenge. the first essay on pensions reviews the state of population ageing in Asia, and examines how societal ageing is straining existing models of social support and public pension systems in China, India, and Japan. the second essay applies the notion of path dependency in public policy studies to examine the institutionalization of provident funds in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Kenya and other former British colonies. With the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pension systems, individuals take on greater responsibility in managing their own retirement savings and decumulation. the third essay thus turns attention the importance of financial literacy among older adults. Empirical analysis is performed to assess levels of financial knowledge among older Singaporeans in the Singapore Life Panel (SLP®) and evaluate the extent to which financial knowledge is associated with common financial and investment mistakes.

the three proposed essays on health and ageing are empirical in nature. Non-communicable diseases and the loss of functional independence pose a substantial economic burden for older adults due to out-of-pocket health and long-term care spending over a long duration. One essay aims to estimate the excess health/ medical spending attributable to older Americans with severe disability as compared to non-disabled persons using micro data from U.S. household surveys. Repeated cross-sectional analysis allows insights into whether and how cost burdens have shifted across income groups over time. Using a nationally representative dataset of oldest-old in mainland China, another essay quantifies the additional health/ medical spending attributable to older persons with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. the final essay uses the same Chinese dataset and builds on prior work to examine and evaluate the sequence of loss in functional capability among the urban versus rural oldest-old adults.

Grant Period : Dec 2016 to Aug 2019

Faculty : NG, Kok Hoe

This proposal responds to an invitation by the International Longevity Centre (ILC) at Tsao Foundation to conduct a study on the household budgets of elderly people in Singapore. Establishing the precise minimum amounts of money that different types of elderly household need to live in Singapore provides a benchmark to assess the current financial situations of elderly people, evaluate the implications of policy developments, and design income interventions. by deriving these budgets in a rigorous and transparent manner, the study can provide a scientific basis for the ILC’s advocacy initiatives on behalf of financially vulnerable elderly people. Internationally, the derivation of household budgets is a well-established field and numerous ongoing projects continue to shape public debate about income security. This study can similarly make a foundational contribution to local research and promote public engagement with the challenges facing Singapore’s ageing population. the rest of this proposal sets out the theoretical and methodological background to household budget studies; a research plan for carrying out this study; the possible research outcomes and impact; and other administrative arrangements.

Grant Period : Mar 2017 to Mar 2020

Faculty : NG, Reuben

The primary aim is to investigate the psychosocial promoters of longevity (e.g., self-acceptance and interdependence) and their specific pathways through the analyzing national cohort datasets in Singapore and US. This is the first known study to investigate self-acceptance and interdependence as promoters of longevity, and distill the relative contributions of these factors, controlling for covariates—all of which were measured over multiple time points. theoretically, this study suggests that components of well-being may make meaningful contributions to longevity, and practically suggests that self-acceptance and interdependence could be added to interventions to promote ageing health.

Grant Period : Apr 2018 to Jun 2019

Faculty : KIM Hye-Won, Erin

Gender inequality at home has drawn scholarly attention recently as one plausible cause of the lowest-low fertility in East Asia. Several longitudinal studies, mostly from the West, have shown time pressure gets particularly high for couples with their transition to parenthood. Although women in the Asian countries face particular challenges due to the persistent expectations for traditional gender-roles and the increased participation in the paid labor market, evidence from the region is little.
Using recent longitudinal data from Korea, we examine how transitions to parenthood as well as further parity progression relate to husband's and wife's time use, especially time spent on domestic labor, time spent on paid work, and time spent on sleep. We will use fixed effect regression models to examine the research questions, using panel data from the 2012, 2014, and 2016 waves of the Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families.

Grant Period : Apr 2018 to Sep 2019

Faculty : NG, Kok Hoe

Internationally, homelessness is a serious policy concern. Many governments therefore undertake regular street counts of the homeless population to monitor the issue. However this has not been done in Singapore. A pilot study by this researcher and other collaborators in 2017 suggests there is a sizeable street homeless population here. This study therefore sets out to produce Singapore's first nationwide street count of the homeless population and to examine their profile. It will also test techniques to improve the accuracy of homeless street counts in dense urban environments, such as the plant-capture strategy to monitor detection and discounting rates, an adaptation of the capture-recapture technique often used in ecological surveys, and deployment of multiple teams to assess interrater consistency and misidentification. A point-in-time count combined with a short survey will be conducted on one night in selected sites across Singapore. the final count will be based on extrapolation from the sample sites and adjustments for undercounting. This study can inform social service and policy planning, contribute to the methodological literature on street counts, and provide a basis for public and policy discussion on an important social issue.

Grant Period : Apr 2016 to Dec 2018

Faculty : CHEN Jie, Yvonne

This project aims to understand the effect of economic development on gender equality and gender roles. the relationship between gender equality and economic development can go both ways. Previous studies have shown that empowering women may benefit development in many dimensions. On the other hand, economic development is shown to have a positive effect on gender equality by providing women with more opportunities. This project will study the underlying mechanisms through which economic development and gender equalities are related. Two research questions will be addressed using micro survey data to be collected from fieldwork and secondary sources. First, what is the effect of infrastructure on gender equality and women’s well being? Second, what is the effect of household structure and family environment, such as parental education and perceived gender roles, as a transmission mechanism through which gains from economic development is passed onto the sons and daughters? the findings will show that family environment is critical in determining the relative gains from economic development for sons and daughters. therefore more policy focus needs to be placed on understanding the behaviors of parents and micro-environment within households.