Getting rich ranks low for S'poreans

Contrary to popular belief, many Singaporeans do not consider the accumulation of wealth to be among their top values - it is actually one of the least significant.

Instead, filial piety, as well as safety and security for their families, is tops for many here.

These were among the findings released yesterday from a survey conducted as part of the Our Singapore Conversation and done jointly with the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

Researchers said that, while Singaporeans may consider certain values more important than others, this might not be the case in practice because many people could be bound by challenges due to their circumstances.

Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, an IPS faculty associate, said some Singaporeans may compromise on their beliefs and make more pragmatic choices, especially when it comes to "bread and butter" issues.

"These values are aspirational," he explained. "It doesn't mean that people are there yet, but it's an indication of what they hope to achieve some day."

The survey, which involved door-to-door interviews with 4,000 Singaporeans, took place from December last year to January this year.

Dr Leong Chan-Hoong, an IPS senior research fellow, said it is also likely that Singaporeans look to accumulate wealth in order to raise the standard of living for their families.

While it is "unavoidable" for respondents to answer questions in a manner deemed favourable by others, Dr Leong said that people "need not be so cynical about the findings". The results generally showed that Singaporeans have altruistic and community-centric aspirations, he added.

"Perhaps the challenging times we face today have nudged Singaporeans into revisiting their priorities, even reviving the community spirit and bringing people closer together," he said.

The survey also found that job security, housing and health care are citizens' top priorities.

Nearly half of the respondents - 49 per cent - said that they preferred a reduction in the inflow of foreigners, even if it meant slower growth and fewer jobs.

On taxation, many citizens - 42 per cent - preferred to keep taxes low even if it limits support to the needy. But more affluent Singaporeans - those living in private homes or earning more than $7,000 a month - were willing to pay higher taxes to support the needy.

For instance, 46 per cent of those earning between $7,000 and $9,999 a month agreed that they would do so, versus 30 per cent who preferred paying lower taxes. The remaining 24 per cent were neutral.

It was also found that younger people had a stronger preference for less censorship compared to older citizens.

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