Father talking under the rain

Abortion a difficult and complex phenomenon not easily explained by social initiatives (and their perceived effectiveness)

While it may be true that some research has documented the importance of active fathering and the potential for a child’s father to influence a woman’s abortion decision, the Centre for Fathering and Dads for Life should be more circumspect when evaluating the effectiveness of their initiatives as well as the extent to which fathers may have contributed to the decrease in abortions since 2010 (ST, Mar. 8).

“Households with maids use 20 per cent more water”: Correlation is not causation

Careful reporting of survey findings is important. Focusing disproportionately on the observation that households with foreign domestic workers use 20 per cent more water than those without (ST, Mar. 9) – 160 litres compared to 135 litres, on a daily, per-capita basis – and attributing the higher water consumption to the hypothesis that “washing and cooking activities are done more often in homes with maids” results in two problems. First, the conflation of correlation and causation, especially when other factors potentially related to consumption, besides the number of individuals in a household, have not been adequately considered; and second, relatedly, the leap to a causal explanation without convincing empirical evidence.

Abandoned tunnel

Changing perceptions of death and care for the sick: Contextualising hypotheses and longitudinal comparisons

A study by the Singapore Management University (SMU) has found that more Singaporeans – including younger Singaporeans between 21 and 50 years old – are more comfortable with discussing death and are now “more aware and better informed of the purpose of palliative care in ‘relieving symptoms and improving the quality of life’ of older patients”. It was led by SMU’s Dr. Yeo Su Lin, who also argued that digital media and online interactions are likely explanations (or hypotheses) for younger Singaporeans to engage in conversations focused on the end-of-life or on death.

A burning cigarette

Evaluating an HPB intervention to reduce youth smoking rates in Singapore

Last week, the headline of an article from a Malaysia-based website screamed: “How Singapore cut youth smoking with this one weird trick”. And given growing public policy interest in nudges – the behavioural-psychology idea that changes to seemingly small details can have major impacts on people’s behaviour – the finding that Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB) was able to cut smoking rates at juvenile detention centres by 30 percentage points was impressive.