Saturday, September 10, 2011

Immigrants not long-term answer

I REFER to the various scenarios by the Institute of Policy Studies concerning the need to bring in different numbers of immigrants to counter the negative effects of an ageing population ('Population will shrink without immigrants'; Thursday).

The immigrants Singapore would give permanent resident status or citizenship to are likely to be highly educated professionals who are more focused on a career than starting a family, resulting in a low fertility rate.

This quick fix of bringing in immigrants may just lead to a problem rearing its ugly head decades down the road, as this group of active working adults will eventually join the ranks of the golden age group, thereby compounding the negative effects of an ageing population.

Singapore as a small island nation does not have the land and infrastructure to accommodate tens of thousands of new immigrants yearly and indefinitely.

Solving the ageing population issue is a complex one and using economic growth as a benchmark of success and prosperity may not be accurate enough.

We may have to think out of the box, using other indicators of happiness and tweaking policies to ensure that each citizen is able to take care of his own needs well, and possibly with some amount of state welfare.

Edwin Lim