Class, potentially the thing that divides Singapore. What Can We Do About It?

3 min read

Class, potentially the thing that divides Singapore

As Singapore move forward as an economy, it has become apparent that Class, is the crack that will divide Singaporeans.

If you haven’t watched the documentary Regardless of Class, do spend a bit of your time on it.

The documentary is based on some of the largest and latest surveys on the above topic, and it left a deep impression on the Seedly team.

The Sad Truth: Our take on this social division

Editor’s note: Points below are strictly our own point of view.

Every day, the society unknowingly divides Singaporeans into “boxes of characteristics”. With each character traits, the society is divided even further to formulate a Socioeconomic status (SES) of an individual.

Think of it as a checklist of your income, hobby, habits, schools attended, occupation, the property you live in, etc. and a final score is given to you based on all these.

If you are a fan of Black Mirror, congrats on living in one, except that the score is not that obvious.


The even more disturbing part about this is that this division starts young. It started from the very thing that is suppose to help us understand the world better, education.

From that point on, we all move on to be categorised into boxes which ultimately affect certain aspect of our lives moving forward.

Here are some of the more common divides:

  • Elite School vs Non-elite School
  • Special Stream vs Express Stream vs Normal Academics and Normal Technical
  • Command School vs Non-Command School during National Service
  • Smokers vs Non-smokers
  • Tattoo vs No Tattoo
  • Higher income vs Lower income
  • Private housing vs Public Housing
  • Type of car one drives
  • Occupation
    (How many time have we heard “if you do not study hard, you will end up cleaning the streets”?)

As much as this may sound, the above divides affect our lives.

The Sadder Truth: Our Social division

Below are the results of a study done by the Institute of Policy Studies’ (IPS) Study on Social Capital in Singapore.

The study looked at how diverse are Singapore’s social network, starting with the types of housing one lives in and schools one attended. The results were quite shocking, yet expected.

source: Straits Times

Someone who lives in
Private Housing
Someone who lives in
Public Housing
Has ties to 3.05 people living in private housingHas ties to 4.3 people living in public housing
Has ties to 2.6 people living in public housingHas ties to 0.8 people living in private housing

Someone who went to elite schoolSomeone who went to non-elite school
Has ties to 2.7 people who went to elite schoolHas ties to 3.9 people who went to a non-elite school
Has ties to 2.1 people who went to a non-elite schoolHas ties to 0.4 people who went to an elite school

With this, a few things seem apparent:

  • Singaporeans who lives in private housing have a fair number of ties with people who live in both the private and public housing.
  • This is the same for Singaporeans who went to an elite school.
  • However, when it comes to Singaporeans living in public housing, they have little ties when it comes to people living in the private housing.
  • The same can be said about Singaporeans who attended a non-elite school.

Hence, it appears that being on “upper social class” in the eyes of the society helps with one’s social circle.

” I am forcefully placed in the “lower class”, what can I do?”

If you find yourself in a society perceived “lower class”, don’t!

Understand the resources available to you

A common mistake will be to identify yourself as a “lower class” and give up trying with the assumption that things will never improve.

The first step to taking over control of your personal finance is to not feel bad about yourself and list out the things you can work with.

Here are some things that one can look to better utilise, free-of-charge:

  • Hobby or interest
    (Are you good at sewing or cooking?)
  • Time
    (Is there a better way to spend your time?)
  • Money
    (Is there a better place to park your savings?)

Pulling the levers that make real change

Whether you are a teacher, waitress, doctor, judge or a cook, when it comes to the importance of personal finance, we are all equal.

We are all part of our own Rat Race, and here are some immediate actionables based on the time taken and amount of effort required:

Seedly Singapore Rat Race Escape

Low Effort actionables:

Medium Effort actionables:

  • Passive Investing (depending on how active you are on investing)
  • Taking up extra jobs outside of working hours (depending on the hours)

High Effort actionables:

  • Setting up your own business/ having your own startup
  • Getting an official certification on your area of interest
  • Taking up extra jobs outside of working hours (depending on the hours)
  • Passive Investing (depending on how active you are on investing)

We came across a really interesting quote during one of our interviews with regards to raising a child in Singapore:

” There are many ways to bring a child. There’s $80 way, $800 way, $8000 way. It’s up to you but don’t spend on things you can’t afford. Be prudent. Don’t follow others.”

We believe that this applies to personal finance for every individual too. The best we can do is to not put ourselves in “boxes”, which is what the Seedly Community is looking to achieve.

We are all master of our own destiny.

SHOW US SOME LOVE! If you like what you've read, join us on our personal finance journey at Facebook and Telegram!