Friday, February 09, 2007

From 4.5 to 6.5 million people

The latest news reads "Singaporeans need assurance over growing population: sociologist." For an island that is only 270 sq miles (700 sq km), that would translate into roughly 279 sq metre for every individual. For an approximation, a family of four typically occupy a 4-room apartment that is about 1200 square metres. If we were to add to the space requirements the additional stuff people has, their furniture and basic shelf space, there isn't much room left to jump. Ok, there will be taller and deeper buildings, and logistically, it is still possible to envision an island being able to accommodate that many people, still, the social implications are not to be underestimated. If there is a squeeze for space, it will mean:

1) Increased competition and increased stress for the limited public resources. People might fight for everything merely because 'everybody is doing it.'
2) Heightened level of impatience which breeds bad social behaviour. I remember those times where queueing up is a way of life for everything, from waiting for a car-park space to lining up to buy cinema tickets. This will also challenge Christians on the spiritual discipline of waiting.
3) Quality of Life. Creativity and innovation requires space, both to think, to experiment and to review the results. If the pressure is always on for people to keep to their schedule to keep the queue going for the next person standing in line, it adds pressure to achieving short-term gains at the expense of things long-term.
Anyway, queueing up will be a way of life.

Well, there are merits if there is a larger population.
- Higher probability of a Nobel peace prize winner, or greater quantity of brainy professionals;
- Increased competition leads to lowering of complacency
- Higher investment by foreigners based on a larger domestic market

Yet the negative side must not be undermined. Packing sardines into cans is doable. Packing people into a tight space is another matter altogether.

Read it for yourself: here


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