Mr. Lee spoke about declining birth rate, the ageing population and why we 60,000 foreigners a year to keep the economy young. I'll discuss the population demographics and low fertility rate later in the posting.
PHD student Joan Sim's drama found 5:07 minutes into this video:
Mr. Lee's very personal somewhat humorous questions must have left Joan Sim rather stunned. However, there are a few points in Mr. Lee's reply to Joan Sim that has to be examined carefully.
Mr. Lee said that poor demographics due to an ageing population is the cause of Japan's economic stagnancy. This is not true. Japanese economic stagnancy came after its bubble economy burst and left the entire banking system ladened with bad debts and zombie banks. While Japan's ageing population does contribute to a longer term gradual decline its economy, the 'lost decade' in the 1990s had little to do with its ageing population. Today, the US has good demographics but people are worried it will become another Japan following the collapse of its housing bubble and the high level of debt in American households[Link]. One of the many early suggestions to get America out of its economic slump was to simply open the flood gates to millions of immigrants from Mexico and Asia to shore up the housing sector to give the economy a boost...but it was considered by many to be highly irresponsible and against the interest of Americans[Link]. Can you imagine what will happen to Japanese soceity if they open the floodgates to immigrants to solve a economic problem caused by the fall of its bubble economy? They can get their GDP to tick up, just like what the PAP did in Singapore by forcing input into the economy, but the long term impact on Japanese culture and tradition..and medium term negative impact of sinking the lower income and temporary workers further down the poverty trap makes the cure worse than the disease.
I visited a professor in NUS a few weeks ago and he told me that he has 8 PhD students and none of them are Singaporeans. Joan Sim is a very small minority among female Singaporean students doing PhD so asking her to find a boyfriend and get married is not going to solve our birthrate problem. Anyway how did Singapore attain such a low birthrate - lowest in the world if you leave out Hong Kong and Macau? There has to be something artificial and different about Singapore to achieve this. Shortly after the PAP got into power, they implemented population control policies asking couples, in particular poorer couples, to have fewer children and they discouraged women from marrying early. Due to PAP's population control policies, Singapore, at some point, had the highest per capita abortion rate in the world. Women were encouraged to join the workforce instead of staying at home to have more babies- remember this simple PAP trick more input more GDP growth. At some point, the PAP realised its population control policies had to be reversed...but instead of fixing it, they wanted only graduate mothers to have more children not everyone to have more children. This selective eugenics based policies are doomed to failure because they provided no incentives and help for average and below average income families to have more children. The miserable end game of having our economic future dependent on foreign influx is the outcome of a chain of bad PAP polices.