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Declining Returns to Increasing Credentials? University Graduates in the Singaporean Labor Market
Unformatted Document Text:  Declining Returns to Increasing Credentials? University Graduates in the Singaporean Labor Market Stephen J. Appold Department of Sociology National University of Singapore 10 Kent Ridge Crescent Singapore 119260 6874-6393 Fax: 6777-9579 http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/socsja/ ## email not listed ## Pulled along by global developments, Singapore is rapidly developing a "knowledge-basedeconomy." Between 1990 and 2000, GDP more than doubled (in 1990 dollars) and the number ofmanagerial and professional jobs almost doubled while the resident population by increased by amuch smaller proportion: 20 percent. Such advances should be a boon to the Singaporean middleclass, particularly those with the education to enable them to fill the positions generated by the shift ineconomic base. That has not occurred. Despite rising income inequality, the ratio of the salaries of professionals tothose of manual workers has actually decreased somewhat despite the increased need for educatedlabour and the surplus of manual labour. Far from being privileged by the shift to a KBE, the middleclass is under pressure. Almost all of Singaporean population growth over the last decade is a product of immigration. Migration rules result in the population of educated labour increasing more quickly than the numberof jobs for which they are qualified. I describe the characteristics of the migrants and estimate thoseof the foreign participants in the labour force that are not covered by published statistics. Breakingdown the population by age group and by cohort (and paying particular attention to Singapore's“baby-boomers”), I show where the competition for jobs is most intense and illustrate how thesituation would differ under alternative migration scenarios.

Authors: Appold, Stephen.
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Declining Returns to Increasing Credentials?
University Graduates in the Singaporean Labor Market
Stephen J. Appold
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore
10 Kent Ridge Crescent
Singapore 119260
6874-6393
Fax: 6777-9579
http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/socsja/
## email not listed ##
Pulled along by global developments, Singapore is rapidly developing a "knowledge-based
economy." Between 1990 and 2000, GDP more than doubled (in 1990 dollars) and the number of
managerial and professional jobs almost doubled while the resident population by increased by a
much smaller proportion: 20 percent. Such advances should be a boon to the Singaporean middle
class, particularly those with the education to enable them to fill the positions generated by the shift in
economic base.
That has not occurred. Despite rising income inequality, the ratio of the salaries of professionals to
those of manual workers has actually decreased somewhat despite the increased need for educated
labour and the surplus of manual labour. Far from being privileged by the shift to a KBE, the middle
class is under pressure.
Almost all of Singaporean population growth over the last decade is a product of immigration.
Migration rules result in the population of educated labour increasing more quickly than the number
of jobs for which they are qualified. I describe the characteristics of the migrants and estimate those
of the foreign participants in the labour force that are not covered by published statistics. Breaking
down the population by age group and by cohort (and paying particular attention to Singapore's
“baby-boomers”), I show where the competition for jobs is most intense and illustrate how the
situation would differ under alternative migration scenarios.


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