Education Subsidies in Singapore

Brain drain is becoming a familiar term as globalisation continues at a neck-breaking pace, and its impact on a country’s development isn’t as simple as local companies losing a talented employee who can potentially reap them great profits. We’re looking at a person who can contribute to the country in more ways than one: one who can share his expertise with his colleagues through daily interactions and collaboration in the workplace, hence increasing the country’s human capital, which is fast becoming one of the most important economic resources in today’s new economy; one who spends and consumes, creating jobs for others as diverse as the construction worker who builds his house to the waitress who serves him at his favourite restaurant; and one who pays taxes which can then be used to further develop the country. The impact of brain drain on a country can be substantial.

It may be tempting to justify emigration after getting a heavily subsidised education in Singapore by arguing that since taxes are dutifully paid, we don’t actually receive any extra benefits from the government. However, statistics tells a very different story. Assuming both parents are in the workforce and each earns about $3,000 every month, which is the average monthly income in 2000, they would’ve paid around $74,000 in income taxes over 16 years, the length of time it takes for a child to enter the education system in Primary 1 to completion of a four-year undergraduate program at a local university; this is only about a third of the $188,000 invested in this child’s education by the government.

Here we’re only talking about the amount of education subsidies each child in the household receives. What if the parents have two or more kids? You do the math.

08 January 2004 · Education, Money

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