Looking back, things aren’t that bad!

Over the past week, my social media feeds have been bustling with numerous post highlighting the rising prices and standard of living in Singapore.

Seeing the comparison of how much a plate of chicken rice costs in 1973 versus in 2012 reminded me of what my parents used to say when I left my five and ten-cent coins lying around.

“You know ah, back in the 1970s, five cents can buy you a plate of chicken rice and a cup of chin chow!” To which my siblings and I would roll our eyes and retort, “Ya, and back then the police used to wear ‘teh-kor’ also.”


There’s nothing wrong with making comparisons; but at the same time, let’s not forget the value of money has changed significantly over the years.

Also, income has risen substantially over the past decades – if we take a look at just ten years ago, the median gross monthly income from the work of full-time employed residents has increased from $2380 in 2002 to $3480 in 2012.

It could be argued that this rise in median income might not be distributed equally between the different income groups. However, the chart here reflects that the spending on social development in Singapore has seen a steady increase over time.

This helps to ensure that all citizens are being taken care of and that no one falls through the cracks.

At the same time we have also seen other increasing trends:

  • A more educated population, with youth literacy rate increasing from 96.29% in 1980 to 99.78% in 2009. The Adult literacy rate has also gone up from 82.91% to 94.71% within a similar timeframe.
  • Longer life expectancy at birth, from 65.66 years in 1960 to 81.64 years in 2010 (Life expectancy is a good reflection of the health of a population and is often used as a measure to the quality of healthcare they receive). It’s also interesting to note that Singapore came in 4th in a global comparison of life expectancy at birth, putting us ahead of countries like Hong Kong and Australia. Impressive, right?
  • Singapore’s mobile population penetration rate is at 151.8% as of December 2012, which means that on average each resident holds more than one mobile phone each! In fact, we’re so well connected that in 2010 we had the third-highest smartphone penetration rate in the world, just behind Saudi Arabia and the UAE!
  • Another thing that has gotten better and better over time is the level of crime rates in Singapore. Sure, they’ve always been relatively low, but according to the Singapore Police Force, overall crime reported in 2012 was at 30,868 cases, much lower than the 36,704 cases from back in 2005.

My point being, it’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it?

Like how we can choose to look at a glass as half full instead of half empty, perhaps we should focus on the positive picture of Singapore’s progress over the years.


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