Throughout GE2020 and in its aftermath, the minimum wage and the Progressive Wage Model – or the PWM – have emerged as key policy proposals, even if the discourse is not new. At least five opposition parties have proposed a minimum wage or a living wage, and in response the ruling party promised to extend the PWM to more industries, beyond the cleaning, security, and landscape sectors. A central concern, nevertheless, is the persistence of poor wages for low-income Singaporeans.
Today, we speak to economist Professor Linda Lim of the University of Michigan, understanding and comparing the minimum wage and Singapore’s PWM (both described as “second-best policies”), addressing common objections to the minimum wage, as well as concluding on the challenge of low-wage labour. Prof. Lim’s research focuses on the political economy of multinational and local business in South East Asia. She is also one of the editors of Academia.SG, a website maintained by a group of Singaporean academics to promote Singapore studies and to encourage critical debate about the state of intellectual life in Singapore.