Singapore is one of the top 25 destinations for immigrants in the world, and in 2017 alone, the country accepted over 22,000 new citizens into the country. The local population has generally reacted with some concern about this influx of foreign talent, placing the blame on migration for taking good jobs away from local Singaporeans, and overcrowding.
Ng Yew Kwang, a welfare economics professor at Nanyang Technological University has suggested that immigration and immigrants are good for the society in the long term, as it ensures that the best global talent is recruited for local roles, keeping Singapore competitive on a global scale. He does support slight preferential treatment for local workers; this is due to the cost of physically relocating migrant workers into Singapore as well as the cost of settling in to a new country.
He has also argued that the practice of hiring foreign talent to top roles in Singapore has been partially responsible for the rise in salaries, which in turn benefits those Singaporeans who are in work. Furthermore, he highlights that despite the high rate of immigration most Singaporeans are in work. The unemployment rate is about 3%.
Professor Ng’s position appears to be at odds with Singapore’s recent approach to immigration which as seen a dramatic fall in the employment of foreigners since 2016.
His commentary on Channel News Asia can be found here.