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Understanding Poverty in Singapore

Singapore, known for being a bustling city-state, is often perceived to be a wealthy, successful country. Yet, poverty in Singapore is a very real issue that is often misunderstood. Without a national poverty line, struggling families and individuals can be less visible, making it difficult to identify, study, and aid those in need with their circumstances.


According to Associate Professor John Donaldson from the Singapore Management University, it is important to consider both quantitative and qualitative measures of poverty, so we may better understand the needs and living conditions of those living in poverty in Singapore.


“The Hunger Report” by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation found that some families in Singapore experience food insecurity at least once a month, with financial constraints being a major cause. Mr Leon Perera from the Workers’ Party also shared during the third day of the Budget 2022 debate that 93% of community safe shelters for the homeless were used last year, and about 100,000 Singaporeans made a gross income of less than $1,300. This is significant considering a study in 2019 that estimated that a single elderly person would realistically need $1,400 to afford basic necessities.

There is no single cause for poverty. Many global forces that are way beyond our control can also worsen or impact living conditions. For example, an article by the BBC exposed that rising food prices, energy prices that lead to increased electricity and utility bills, inflation, and even how bountiful the year’s harvest is can cause a ripple effect to affect the living conditions of these families. In addition, the covid-19 pandemic has largely impacted the job market and economic conditions across the world.


In order to effectively uplift the lives of those in need, we need to consider the multifaceted nature of the issue. Throughout this competition, we have been encouraged by the creative solutions that have been proposed. From 13 to 16 September, the top 25 teams will be presenting their refined proposals to their advisors. Stay tuned to this space for more updates!


If you know anyone who may be living in poverty, please share this link with them, which contains a database of resources that may be helpful in alleviating their circumstances.

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