Singapore and the Educational Arms Race

Thu, Sep 22, 2016 6:00 PM (GMT+8)
The HEAD Foundation 20 Upper Circular Road The Riverwalk #02-21 Singapore 058416

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Singapore is well-known for its high standards of education, having done consistently well in international rankings. While education is important in moulding minds for the future, societal costs can escalate when there is excessive competition for scarce educational resources. Left unchecked, this can lead to rising under-unemployment and unemployment among more Singaporeans, who may spend more competing in the educational arms race, thereby reducing the returns on investment in Singapore’s main economic resource: its people. This lecture will consider the societal costs of education if it is desired mainly as a positional good. It builds on a stylised model that shows how the education system could be a transmission mechanism for inequality. Such developments also have profound implications for Singapore’s society, ranging from ultra-low fertility to diminished economic productivity and possible generational tension. We will also discuss some policy implications arising from this phenomenon.


Mr Christopher Gee
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies

Mr Christopher Gee is a Senior Research Fellow at the  Institute of Policy Studies.

Christopher researches the policy implications and outcomes arising from Singapore’s demographic trends, in particular those aspects relating to housing, healthcare and retirement adequacy. He has also co-led studies on the impact of parenthood measures on fertility preferences, and a multi-disciplinary review of the implications of projected demographic scenarios for Singapore.

Christopher’s current research focus is on the policy implications of longevity, inter-generational accounts and transfers and the “second demographic dividend”. He has published several papers on retirement financing, strengthening old age income support and managing healthcare costs for an ageing population. Christopher was previously in investment banking, leading equity research teams covering Singapore and Malaysia, and the Asian real estate sector. He has a BA (Law) from the University of Nottingham and holds the CFA charter.

Christopher holds a joint appointment with the National University of Singapore’s Department of Real Estate and the Institute of Real Estate Studies, and is a non-executive director of CapitaLand Retail China Trust, a Singapore-listed real estate investment trust with a portfolio of shopping malls in China.

This event is presented by The HEAD Foundation, a Singapore-based think tank devoted to research and policy influence in education and leadership, for development in Asia. Admission is free.

Singapore and the Educational Arms Race

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