Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Great Marriage Firewall of Singapore.

This came about because I had to tackle a conundrum with Government statistics.

Earlier on, I wrote in the last article that the median income was $2,699 in 2017. Kyith Ng of Investment Moats thought that this number was a tad low and another BIGS participant found another number that said $4,232 per month.

As it turns out, all the numbers are correct. $2,699 was median income of a household divided by the number of heads in a household. $4,232 is the median income of someone who contributes to the CPF. In practice what this means is that a family consisting of a couple with kids will typically see the husband and wife making about two times $4,232. Dividing this sum total but the number of folks in the household, including kids, this will results in a figure closer to $2,699.

This brings up an entirely new and interesting dimension to reading national statistics.

If you remained single and worked for a living, half of you will be able to earn $4,232. However, if you gotten married and settled down, after diving the income across all members of the household, you only have $2,699.

The price tag of being married is about $1,500 a month !

This great $1,500 firewall may be the reason preventing singles are getting married. Unfortunately, this is manifesting in ways which confuse citizens like the recent argument that you can make babies in small flats. It does not help that, recently in the UK, the game Fortnite is starting to appear in quite a few divorce papers - Some computer games are so good that a lot of guys are giving up family life to pursue a life of gaming instead.

This also changes the way we should engage our single friends. Yes, even those who are currently looking for someone to settle down with.

If I'm feeling trollish, I would challenge my single friends this way :

Whoever marries you would have to downgrade their lifestyles by $1,500 a month. What makes you so worthy that someone would choose to downgrade their salary by $1,500 in order to start a family with you ?

At an individual level, this is a high bar to cross - especially for men. Most men will simply try to work hard and reach an income above the median by at least $1,500 so that they can worthy.

It's like Thor slogging to become worthy for his hammer (only to have his hammer crushed by his evil sister).

It gets worse. Just remember not too long ago, I wrote about ITE graduates drawing $3,000 after a decade of slogging.

At a policy maker level, this number is a huge national disaster because when we scale up the numbers, people do tend to be quite rational when making lifelong decisions.

On one hand, singles have a lot going for them these days. Why should single men bother with dealing with the choosiness of single women when they can have endless treats on Netflix and Steam.

Similarly, why would single women give up their financial autonomy for a media income guy? 

The Great Marriage Firewall of Singapore is the biggest policy challenge in the future. This will be surely be exacerbated by technological disruption which will see a generation of single men lose their jobs and then retreat into their tiny flats to Fortnite until they expire from old age. 


  1. agree. We are joining japan NEET.

    I guess I am 1 leg in

  2. Hi Chris,

    I think that it is great to be a single in my prespective. Different people have their way of thoughts. There are instance in which one want to get married. However, he/she cannot find the rightful partner to complete the marriage union. It is the situation of one willing and the other party reluctant. Love cannot be forced. As such, it will be in the best interest of one choosing the alternative lifestyle which he/she prefers to be leading in the event of one's inability to find the suitable partner. Be happy always and live on own terms.