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Singapore is top country in S-E Asia for social mobility: Report

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Singapore is ranked 20th among 82 economies for social mobility and number one among South-east Asian nations, according to a new report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week.

While it came in behind countries such as Japan, Germany and Australia, it fared better than the US, Britain and China.

The ranking in the Global Social Mobility Index 2020 considers how countries scored on indicators across five areas: health, education, technology, work, plus resilience and institutions.

The Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland, in that order, made up the top five on the list in the report launched to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the WEF's annual meeting in Davos this week, with income inequality as a focus.

Everything being equal, if all countries increased their scores by 10 points, the resulting growth would convert into an additional US$514 billion (S$693 billion) for the global economy each year.

For Singapore, the increase would be US$2.4 billion.

Still, the Republic did especially well in health and education, coming up tops for inequality-adjusted healthy life expectancy, learning outcomes and the low proportion of disadvantaged students who reported lacking education material.

It was also the best performer in Internet access in schools, cooperation in labour-employer relations as well as government and public services efficiency.

But it was below average for social protection (61st) and fair wage distribution (51st).

Social protection indicators include guaranteed minimum income benefits, social protection spending and social safety net protection.

On social protection, Associate Professor Irene Ng of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Social Work said Singapore's model anchors on developing individuals through investments in education, healthcare and housing, among others, rather than on giving hand-outs. This is to prevent dependency. - THE STRAITS TIMES