Singapore’s five decades of development: lessons and future directions

Chia Siow Yue


This paper looks at Singapore’s transition from a Third World economy at the time of political independence in August 1965 to a First World economy five decades later. It is a unique city-state with a dearth of land and natural resources and pursuing a government-led, mnc (multinational corporation)- led, and export-led development strategy. Government and governance have been outstanding, and the city-state overcame its constraints by adopting open trade and investment policies, making the region and the world its economic hinterland. Five decades later, while facing the same demographic and land constraints, it has to overcome the challenges of transitioning into a private-enterprise-driven and innovation-driven economy.

JEL classification: F1, F2, H1, J1, O1, O2


Singapore development model, economic policy, social policy, city-state economy

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