Singapore ranked among the bottom 10 countries around the world that reduce the inequality gap, according to The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2018, developed by international confederation Oxfam International. The index was based on a new database of indicators, measuring government action on three main areas found to be critical in reducing the inequality gap - social spending, tax and labour rights.
Out of the 157 countries covered in the study, Singapore ranked 149. In terms of labour rights, the city-state ranked poorly due to reasons such as having no equal pay or non-discrimination laws for women, inadequate laws on rape and sexual harassment, and lack of minimum wage across all sectors, according to the study.
Singapore also ranks relatively low in tax. While it had increased its personal income tax by 2%, but the maximum rate remains a very low at 22% for the highest earners. This low score transcends over to social spending as well, allocating only 39% of its budget to education, health and social protection. This is far behind the 50% set aside by Thailand and South Korea in their own respective budgets.
Regionally, among the 23 countries in East Asia and the Pacific, Singapore comes in the second last position, i.e. 22nd position. It ranked 11th in social spending, 23th in tax and 7th in labour.
In the three areas covered in the survey, Poland ranked 1st for social spending, Australia for taxation policies and Norway for labour rights and wages.
10 countries that were ranked the best at tackling inequality
The 10 worst-ranked countries
150. Lao PDR
153. Sierra Leone
In a press statement, Matthew Martin, Development Finance International’s director, said: “What’s most striking is how clearly the Index shows us that combatting inequality isn’t about being the wealthiest country or the one of the biggest economy. It’s about having the political will to pass and put into practice the policies that will narrow the gap between the ultra-rich and the poor. This index clearly lets us see who’s doing that and who’s not.”
Infographic / Oxfam International
Photo / 123RF