Singapore tops new global index in human capital

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NUSA DUA, BALI: Singapore got its top healthcare and education systems because its leaders took the necessary steps to develop them, not because it was filled with crazy rich Asians.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim made the comment at the Human Capital Summit yesterday, referencing the popular novel and movie set in the Republic to make a point about how world leaders have to invest more in healthcare and education in their countries.

Mr Kim was speaking at a dialogue with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who shared the early steps the Government took after independence to lay the foundation for its healthcare and education systems.

A new index, which measures how effectively societies devote resources to develop their people, shows Singapore topping the list.

The Human Capital Index (HCI), launched by the World Bank at its annual meetings in Bali yesterday, saw three East Asian economies faring well, with South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong ranked second, third and fourth out of 157 economies respectively.


The report also noted that Singapore's HCI measure is higher for girls than for boys.

"The most remarkable thing about Singapore is this was not a country full of crazy rich Asians 50 years ago," Mr Kim said, to laughter from the audience.

"This was a country that went from having low literacy rates and developing country kind of mortality numbers to where it is now because leaders took responsibility and said, 'We are going to measure it, we will get there and try all the different innovations.'"

The most remarkable thing about Singapore is this was not a country full of crazy rich Asians 50 years ago.World Bank president Jim Yong Kim

Still, Mr Lee noted that "the job is never done" because as the country reaches new levels of development, new expectations and challenges arise.

In healthcare, Singapore has to focus on stepdown care and active ageing so that people stay fit and healthy for a longer time.

Mr Lee said: "We've got old folks in their 70s and 80s who are learning to dance ballet and doing not badly, and they're much healthier and happier for it."

Mr Kim said it was also "stunning" that Singapore has achieved its current outcomes even though it spends just 4.6 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare.

The US spends 18 per cent of its GDP on healthcare. Most European nations spend 10 per cent to 12 per cent. - THE STRAITS TIMES