Friday, December 16, 2022

Singapore's strange happiness conundrum


I was just settling down for the weekend and recommend this book called Blind Spot by Jon Clifton, who is the CEO of the Gallup poll. The book is chock full of interesting statistics and has a dedicated chapter on Singapore.

The Singapore Happiness conundrum is right up to 2011. Singaporeans began to experience a reduction in both happy and unhappy experiences. This is puzzling because it is difficult to see whether society is becoming happier or more prosperous or whether things are falling apart. 

Gallup really struggled with explaining this phenomenon because Singapore is unique. The only surface interpretation is that we're all becoming more stoic and consider emotions a liability.

Interestingly, the number of positive experiences after 2011 began to bounce up. Still, Gallup cannot attribute it to stronger labour relations or even folks catching onto the survey. The book reports many folks claiming to even understand what the study is about, which shows how well-read Singaporeans are.

For me, a glaring omission was the PAP lost its first GRC in 2011, and a slew of reforms was made to appease the populace. I remember IPPT standards being reviewed to make RT less onerous for NSmen and NS being reduced to 2 years for A-level and Poly graduates. I remember Singapore becoming much easier to live in after that watershed election. 

Will the gap between positive experiences and negative experiences improve as we move into 2023 and become more left-leaning as we see higher GST and property taxes? 

Time will tell, but I hope we don't sacrifice future generations just to keep Millenials and Gen Z happy. 

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