DPM Tharman: Everyone, Including The Middle Class, Has To Keep Moving Up
Singapore has to ensure that everyone – including the middle class – keeps moving upward in order to tackle inequality, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Thursday (October 25).
Mr. Tharman used an escalator as an analogy, which has to keep moving so that everyone progresses.
“Once that escalator stops, that escalator that carries everyone up stops, the problems of inequality and all the problems of me against you, this group against that group, become much sharper,” he said.
He noted that there will be a “pervasive anxiety” among the middle class if they feel that someone is catching up with them or moving away from them. He warned that inequality will become a much sharper and more brittle issue if stagnation of the middle class takes place over a long period of time.
As such, the escalator has to keep moving, as “it much easier to have social mobility with a moving escalator”.
Mr. Tharman said that generational inequality represents a good part of inequality in Singapore.
Among Singaporeans who are aged 55 and above, over 60 per cent are still in the workforce and have no more than a secondary school education.
However, Singapore has transformed education and created more opportunities for subsequent generations. As a result, older generations are now at the lower end of the escalator, and subsequent generations have moved up, leading to generational inequality.
“We have to focus our minds on how we can help older Singaporeans – not the true elderly but mature Singaporeans, who still have 40 years ahead of them – to work for as long as they wish, with dignity, earn a decent pay, with the support of their employers, the Government and the public,” he said.
Photo source: Channel NewsAsia