Kiosk at a bus interchange (Photo by Ng Shi Wen)

Scarcity, the bandwidth tax, and the effect of debt reduction in low-income Singaporean households: Dr. Ong Qiyan

Ever since the paper was published in 2019, I was excited to speak with its authors about how they used quasi-experimentation to study the relationship between debt relief among low-income individuals and their psychological functioning and economic decision-making. In other words, what is the effect of debt reduction in low-income Singaporean households? With lead author Dr. Ong Qiyan, we also learn more about the concepts of scarcity and the bandwidth tax and their implications for the design of social policies and social services. 

American dollar bill

“Reducing debt improves psychological functioning and changes decision-making in the poor”: The value of quasi-experimentation

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – the second most cited scientific journal in the world – the study by Ong et al. (2019) examines the relationship between debt relief among low-income individuals and their psychological functioning and economic decision-making. In this vein, it is worthwhile to evaluate the value of quasi-experimentation, to consider how they define and operationalise key concepts, and to share the significance and implications of the findings on social services and policies in Singapore.