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Managing immigration: What S’pore can learn from others (TODAY Online)
By Ling Tok Hong
At the announcement of the White Paper on population, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the Government hopes to strike the “appropriate balance”. This balance is key.
The Government’s marriage and parenthood package may set the brakes on the falling total fertility rate and help build the core of citizens, but there is a limit to how much impact it will have in the long run. This is because of changing social trends and norms which have had a negative impact on global fertility rates.
A “closed-door” approach to immigrants in the long run will therefore not work. Immigrants are needed to complement the resident workforce by taking on lower-skilled jobs, as well as to provide access to highly-skilled workers who facilitate economic upgrading and productivity increases.
On the other hand, a fully “open-door” approach is also not the way to go, as it will put tremendous pressure on Singapore’s scarce resources and on social integration issues.
Finding a balanced approach to immigrants — “smart and managed growth” — will be key to the success of the population strategy, and Singapore could look to the experience of other leading cities that have sought to increase immigration levels. Their experiences provide a useful reference, even if they may not be fully applicable to Singapore’s unique context.
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