The State of Poverty in Singapore

Here in Singapore, we know that our natural resources are limited that is why we give importance to human talent. Singapore is successful because we did not let our limited resources dictate our future. We maximized the potential of everybody and thereby giving us continuous success. We thought that everyone here gets fair opportunity.


Well, we thought wrong. Not all people here are given fair opportunity especially those who are living in poverty. Poverty cannot be eradicated no matter how the government attempts. Poverty can only be reduced. Poverty actually exists here and there is no denying it.

Not all people know or see poverty here because they are usually confined in their luxurious spaces but there are people who see and even feel poverty every day. It is important that we are aware of poverty even though we are beyond that. Unfortunately, the government does not define poverty but we have to discover it on our own. Here are some truths about poverty:

  • Poverty defined: There are two definitions of poverty – absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty refers to the minimum requirements necessary for living here. Relative poverty on the other hand refers to an amount required for a specific household to afford basic necessities to survive and evade “social exclusion”.


  • Who fell under basic living expenditure: According to the Department of Statistics, the amount needed of a household is $1250 per month. In 2011, the Department of Statistics revealed that 10 to 12% of households here fall under this level. Base on this statistics, there were about 440,000 to 560,000 who were actually living below or within $1250.
  •  What we need to avoid being “socially excluded”: In 2012, the medium income of households here was $6,000. In Hong Kong, they calculate relative poverty by getting 50% of the medium income. The 50% of $6,000 (our medium income) is $3,000. So, we need to make at least $3,000 per month to avoid being “socially excluded”. We have to accept that we are already there or in danger of falling under this category.
  • Why is it difficult for families to get out of the cycle? It is difficult for families to get out of the poverty cycle because we earn less and spend more. According to the Department of Statistics, the bottom twenty percent of households here spend an average of $2,231 but this group earn at least $2,022 which means they have a deficit of $209 per month.

Now we are aware of poverty.


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