Population growth: Losing the debate with an unsubstantiated case
By Gordon Lee
Recent days have seen much scaremongering by politicians, businesses and the mainstream media about perils of calling bluff on the Government’s Population White Paper.
But with the best of efforts to assuage the growing sense of apprehension over the targeted 30% increase (unless the Government has completely no control over the population, population projections equates population targets – any claim otherwise is superfluous), the Government is clearly losing the debate.
This is no surprise considering the economic evidence against them, and the fact that the Government has offered no support for their position. Such were the views held not just by a few sensible Members of Parliament, but also by experts like Donald Low, a senior fellow at the LKY School of Public Policy and a former top civil servant.
The burden of proof
In an earlier article, I have reviewed the economic literature surrounding an ageing population.
In short, the evidence from around world suggests that an ageing population does not have any significant detrimental socio-economic effects. Some studies suggest manageable consequences, others suggest potential benefits.
Since my last article, several readers have commented that these international studies may not apply to Singapore. I believe that Singapore is subject to same laws of economics, and that its circumstances are not extraordinary. But, this is not important.
Since I was born in the late 1980s, the population has already increased 70%. If the Government wishes to grow the population by another 30% by 2030, the burden of proof should lie upon the Government to justify its drastic population policies.
Failure of governance
Unfortunately, the Government has failed to justify their drastic measures by making the following case, that
1) the effects of an ageing population are dire, and
2) their policies are sustainable and appropriate.
Donald Low, a senior fellow at the LKY School of Public Policy and a former top civil servant, has also criticised the Government’s amateurish approach and said that there “wasn’t even a References section to show what research the writers of the paper had done, what social science theories they relied on, what competing theories/frameworks they looked at… There was also a surprising lack of rigorous comparison with other countries that have gone through, or are going through, a similar demographic transition.”
To read the full blog, click here: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/02/population-growth-losing-debate-unsubstantiated-case/
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