Bryan Caplan  

Mr. Caplan Goes to Singapore

Lectures on Macroeconomics, No... Hoover Sings His Own Praises...
I leave for Singapore on Saturday.  I will be giving two public lectures there on Tuesday, 11/18:

I will also be taking a sidetrip to Kuala Lumpur before returning.

During my stay in Singapore, I will have the chance to talk to local experts in (a) Singapore's health care system, and (b) Singaporean public opinion.  If there are any questions that you'd like me to ask on your behalf, I'm now taking requests.

My ears are also open if you have more general questions about Singapore and/or Malaysia, or if you have some advice to guide my explorations.

P.S. Here are all of my prior Singapore posts.  Anything you want to learn more about?  Anything you want me to double-check?  Anything you're confident that I'm wrong about?  I'll be reporting back after Thanksgiving.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (18 to date)
David R. Henderson writes:

Please ask them about price shopping for medical care. For example, when they call a doctor for an appointment, are they able to get, over the phone, the actual price quote for their visit. Their answers will probably lead you to ask follow-up questions that a smart, curious person such as you will think to ask. Hard to anticipate the follow-up without knowing their answers to the first question.
Have a good time.

Peter St. Onge writes:

I'd be curious to know if average Singaporeans consider a limited franchise interesting (wealth, education), or if they divide between universal franchisers and those who think democracy unnecessary.

Related, I'd be interested if pro-democracy Singaporeans think constitutional limits are important, or if democracy in any form is magically delicious.

Both questions are predicated on my assumption that they will, eventually, and perhaps unfortunately, democratize.

Have fun!

Blackadder writes:

My question would be whether those most supportive of the governments market oriented policies were more supportive of Singapore's "law and order" policies than average, or whether they were more likely to favor liberty in all arenas (the same would go for whether those opposed to the government's market friendly policies opposed its policies on things like drugs, conscription, etc.)

C L writes:

I'm curious about the Singaporean housing market. Something like 80% of the housing stock in Singapore is government-owned. How does it allocate these houses without falling into Soviet-style waiting lists and corruption?

Alex J. writes:

When I was there, they had a distinct oversupply.

Anon writes:

C.L., my understanding is that there is centralized corruption, in that improvements to government-owned housing are allocated in part to reward or punish voting in electoral districts (if your district delivers higher turnout for the P.A.P., you get better infrastructure).

Tony Suruda writes:

This follows up on David's post. Do they have price transparency? Can you find out the price for a procedure (e.g., colonoscopy, electrocardiogram)on the practitioner or hospital's web site and do comparison shopping? That's something I wish we had in the States...

Have a nice trip, stop at Raffles for a Singapore Sling.

Nigel Kearney writes:

Enjoy the food. Unlike other parts of Asia, there is fantastic food you can safely eat, whether from street vendors or anywhere else.

The connection with economics is that minimal food safety regulations don't necessarily lead to food that makes people sick. It can just mean food that is cheaper, more varied and more convenient.

Gary writes:

Ask people if they would prefer to live in Singapore or America.

Jacob Oost writes:

What's the occupational licensing situation there? Would you say Singapore is trending statist or liberal these days?

Pietro Poggi-Corradini writes:

The Singapore Math curriculum is the best in the world (if you have kids I suggest you go through that with them). With that in mind I wonder if you'll be able to detect signs of a higher math literacy over there.

Chris writes:

One of the frequent excuses about why market healthcare can't work is that the average person wouldn't be able to intelligently be able to weigh the options. How do they figure it out in Singapore?

Bill writes:

Here is an article by another free market economist who visited Singapore 20 years ago with a bunch of college students.

It would be interesting to see if you believe the perspectives still hold true today after your visit.

Peter writes:

Could you ask the health care officials about the incentives that doctors face while in practice? I believe that the biggest problem with our system is that doctors make money every time they treat a patient. I think that in a more rational system, the doctors would lose money every time they treat a patient.

RL writes:


Find out what kind of hurtles immigrant physicians face to practice medicine there...

johnleemk writes:

You might find Malaysia a useful control for any comparisons with Singapore. Both countries have pretty much the same history and culture, but Malaysia is distinctly more statist than Singapore. (As for democratisation, it's hard to say - Malaysia is more free than Singapore in some areas, but Singapore is freer in others.)

Malaysia is also known for its strong affirmative action policies, which usually get conflated with actual racism by those in and out of government. (Try arguing about it with a Malaysian and you'll find most people see affirmative action as a way of not only righting a wrong but an innate birthright for the Malays.) Malaysia's all the more intriguing because affirmative action policies favour the majority ethnic group - although that's because they've historically faced some of the biggest structural disadvantages.

I hope it's a fruitful trip for you, as a Malaysian and a former Singaporean resident. If you have the time in Kuala Lumpur, check out some of the local think tanks. I've worked with Tricia Yeoh at the Centre for Public Policy Studies (a centrist think tank focused on the economy and human rights issues), and also know one of the directors of what might be the only libertarian think tank in the Nusantara (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia) region -- the Malaysia Think Tank. (One of its advisory board members is actually Tom Palmer from the Cato Institute.) I can put you in touch with either or both of them if you're interested.

arron writes:

Thought I'll share an interesting resource. This lists out all the various medical establishments in singapore. Will be easy to find what you need at

Mamadou writes:

Hello Brian,
I am a student of Healthcare administration and I am in the process of developing a Universal Healthcare Model for the Ivory Coast. I just discovered your article regarding universal healthcare in singapore. How exciting. Could I cite you in my report?


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