Monday, September 20, 2004

Emigration Numbers Reality Check.

One reason survey data collected does not correspond to reality is this phenomena of stated preference versus revealed preference. The former is what you answer on a no-risk poll, the latter is what your actual behaviour in the situation.

There has been quite a bit of statistical / psychological studies which explore this phenomena in a quest to find better ways to reconcile the difference (in order to improve the odds of survey results corresponding to reality).

There is a lot of bitching and complaining about living in Singapore. Just ask any taxi driver! The local media reports that 60% of NUS graduates are considering emigration. Every other yuppie talks of going to live somewhere less stressful. Retirees threaten to take their CPF withdrawals and migrate to lower-cost living places like China, Malaysia or Thailand.

But the reality is that not many Singaporeans are choosing to leave.

Using PRs granted to Singaporeans over the last couple of years as a proxy for emigration:

> 2001 - 1,786
> 2002 - 2,064 (up 15.5%)
> 2003 - 2,656 (up 28.6%)

> 2001 - 666
> 2003 - 991 (up 49%)

> 2000 - 671
> 2002 - 1,036 (up 54.4%)

New Zealand
> 2001 - 437
> 2002 - 278 (down 30%)
> 2003 - 369 (up 32.7%)

These numbers are overstated in that not everybody who gets a PR ends up leaving Singapore for good. And understated in that not everybody who lives abroad has a PR of the country. However this is the best proxy I can find, unless somebody else has a better suggestion.

The point is: Even if you multiply these numbers by a factor of ten, the fact remains that only a tiny percentage (under 2%) chose to emigrate. These seems to be disconnect between the stated desire to emigrate and the numbers that actually do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I think you have to consider a few factors
Singapore is a develop country ang not a third world or in a state of terror. Most of the people who wants to leave is because they are unhappy about the political climate ,the education system and the esclating costs of living ( basically working longers hrs to maintain a standard of living). I been staying in NZ for 8 mths and I can say that it not easy to start life all over again- Looking for new Job or business, No more Maids, New Friends, miss singapore food etc but it worth it bec of the great experience for me and for my children to grow up (OE - oversea experience) which I believe will be more important for their upbringing than just AAAA's . The world has change and I believe that those with vision and bold will be in charge of their life . We take so much risk to do all this and it is extremely unfair to call people who venture out a new way of life "quiters" .I sure it is possible as many as 30-40% of the singaporean would want to migrate except that they are financially not ready or not able to and the uncertainity of starting all over is just too difficult.

December 22, 2004 5:05 AM  

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