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GP Samples Essays – Economic Issues

Are you a JC H1 GP student seeking good sample essays on economic issues?

 

Or are you preparing for this topic of issues of Economics and its various impacts on an economy? Go ahead and use our complete full-length essays for your upcoming GP exams. GP candidates should consider the myriad of sub-topics of local or global economy, poverty vs affluence, industrial development vs ecological preservation, emigration and immigration, industrial revolution 4.0, internet of things, consumer sovereignty and consumer convergence, etc. (Find other General Paper topics here)


[In reality, many times politics influence and drive economics decisions.]

 


Q1: Discuss the implications of moving towards a virtually cashless society this for your country?

 

SUGGESTED APPROACH
Introduction:

1. Inevitable that Singapore is moving towards a cash less society as this is one of the outcomes of our drive towards greater technological and economic progress.

2. Increasing number of transactions conducted at all levels of society through some form of cashless exchange of the ATM cards, credit cards, SMART cards, or through the NETS system, and GIRO automatic deduction system.

3. Implications for the country are varied and important in how we as a nation conduct our daily activities.

Main Arguments
(A) Positive Implications

1. Promote growing awareness and appreciation of technology in our daily lives and hopefully, the direct impact can make our society a more techno logically adept community. This is vital in the long run if we want to keep up with the rest of the world especially in this highly geared Information Age.

2. Cashless transactions through the various means, ie, ATM, Transitlink can promote speed, efficiency and convenience at all levels of life. In the long run, Singaporean will benefit from the cumulative. effects and hopefully improve the quality of life.

3. Increasing the reliance on technology to help pro mote cashless transactions means a need to retain workers and maybe even force new skills on them. Will be useful for the community as it will be forced to keep up with the rest of the world.

4. Increasing cashless transactions would also mean getting rid of the habit of carrying large amounts of cash. This means a person will be less vulnerable to criminal acts, and losing one’s cards can be less traumatic than losing cash and in some cases the loss can be recovered.

5. Changing the spending patterns of Singaporeans. and with the ease of shopping, more demand; and this can help to stimulate the economy.

6. Hopefully, more time can be saved through cash less transactions, ie, without wasting time standing in queues, Singaporean can use the time to turn their energies to other interest, ie, home, hobbies etc.

Negative Implications
1. Promotes consumerism with all its attendant evils:
(i) erodes the habit of thriftiness
(ii) encourages wasteful spending
(iii) cultivates the habit of debt (iv) undermines the value of money

Cashless transactions make it difficult for a person to feel the money being spent, as nothing is seen leaving their hands, and such ease can lull a person into a state of false financial security.

2. Overdependence on the advanced computer technology can mean an array of new concerns: (i) birth of new white-collar crimes. Therefore the police and justice system must keep up with the new technology

(ii) A glitch in the system can cause island-wide paralysis in practically all sectors of life from transportation to the government agencies

(iii) keeping up with the separate codes, numbers and system can overwhelm an individual and can be mentally exhausting and intimidating. Not surprising that there are societies in the United States devoted to helping people cope or flee from such an environment.

(iv) increasing isolation as there would be fewer opportunities for human contact as everything would be conducted through pressing a button.

3.Cashless society presumes that everyone would welcome and benefit from a system that encourages spending (credit cards) or promotes efficiency (stored-value cards) but (i) credit cards appeal to the baser instinct of man’s greed (ii) increasing spending can affect the productivity / performance of the economy due to poor savings. (iii) the lower income group of the society may not be able to advance huge amounts of money for a pre paid card and will be left out for certain goods and services which welcome the use of cards. (iv) certain jobs will be made redundant, and retraining is not the suitable solution.

HOWEVER
As stated before, this march to cashless society is now a relentless sprint and to be totally cowed by the negative implications would not be the practical thing to do. There are definitely more benefits to be gained and with new technology, there would be glitches to overcome. There fore, there is a need to strike a balance and certain pre cautions can be adopted but there is no perfect solution – A case of living with the inevitable?

 

Comments from General Paper Teacher:
Strengths

I Most students were clear in their efforts to analyze the situation in their own country. Indeed, several Malaysian students expressed this point very strongly throughout their essays.

2. The good essays were able to cite evidence from a broad range of daily activities, ie, from the ordinary individual to the sophisticated boardroom executive, from the humble Transitlink card to the electronic transfer of funds, to now Paylah, PayNow, Dash app, Google pay, Grab app, etc.

Weaknesses
1. Narrative accounts of how people go about con ducting business in a cashless society. There were no attempts to zero in on the key word in the question, ie implications and thus a discussion of future consequences for the country.

2. Most weak essays were rather narrow in their focus of discussion as they tended to deal with for eg. either the economy, the business world or the individual. One student merely discussed the computer system and how one can transfer money easily via the computer.

3. Yes, the words Information Age, Information Technology were bandied around with complete ruthlessness that I’m sure not all of them were sure what they meant.

4. A few students interpreted ‘implications’ as ‘implies’. Thus, there were sentences which reiterated the idea that such an event, ie, a cashless transaction, implies the state of Singapore’s advanced technology. This was a major error due, I think, to superficial reading of the question; a perennial problem with a few of our students.

5. Students were not clear what a cashless society means, with a few students citing plastic money with cheques, and describing the credit card system as something that was totally incomprehensible.

 


Q2: Discuss the extent of increasing material affluence affecting life in your country.

There is no denying that in the last nearly 200 years since it was founded, Singapore has grown from a small fishing port to a bustling and affluent is land-nation, port of call and home away from home for people of diverse nationalities. Through its role as a distributing and trading centre of the East, it has made gargantuan profits, which imbued Singaporeans with a level of affluence envied by other developing nations in the region. This material affluence, which continues to in crease, has to a great extent shaped the lives of Singaporeans and left an indelible mark on their lives.

Amongst some of the benefits that an affluent life style afford Singaporeans, is freedom from poverty. Singaporeans, freed from worry about baser concerns like food and shelter, can now afford to turn their minds to at higher plane and seek spiritual enrichment through Art. Many of our brilliant minds, freed from physical discomfort, can lend their talents towards works of Art, acts of invention and creation which ultimately win renown for our country and generally improve the physical or spiritual condition of Man through his discoveries. The increase in standard of living also ensures that children are given sufficient and suitable food to aid them in reaching physical and intellectual maturity.

With greater material affluence, healthcare becomes available to the population, and the life expectancy of each citizen increases, thus maximising his contribution to the society that had educated and supported him in his youth. Another advantage would be the ability to purchase high technology equipment from the industrialised countries of the West and using this to create our own products for the international market. A good example would be Creative Technology, a Singapore-based company whose Sound Blaster gave the Silicon Valley a run for its money in the field of sound cards..

Material affluence also increases the people’s faith in the government, giving it more power to implement long term beneficial policies which may incur costs from Singaporeans, like the Housing and Development Board’s estate upgrading projects, which require that the residents pay only a subsidised fee. It also provides for a more stable political climate which is a strong draw factor for foreign investment, which goes to further increase the country’s affluence. Finally, with such a stable political and social climate, S’pore attracts many skilled expatriates who land teaching posts in local universities and on the whole serve to raise the educational standard of Singapore.

To provide a more balanced perspective, we now look at some of the negative effects of this increase in material affluence. For one, the degeneration of basic values as they grow increasingly irrelevant in the ruthless business world where the fittest and most intelligent survive: increasingly, we are judging people by the clothes they wear and the cars they drive, and not by the person inside. The world for most Singaporeans increasingly revolves around the material aspect of life.

Many Singaporeans, smug in their complacency, fail to see how easily all that we have worked so hard for could be lost overnight, that SG’s economic miracle is its people, and that if they lapse into complacency, the economy will plummet. Many worries have been voiced by the older generations about the ability of the young people today to survive bad times and persevere through hardships, given that they are brought up in ” a land of plenty”. This also tends to create a generation gap between parents who have gone through the Japanese occupation and their offspring who grow up in relative luxury.

Finally, there is great pressure on the young children of today to perform and compete in society for good jobs with high pay. This puts undue stress on the child and in extreme cases may lead to a mental imbalance. It is ironic that material affluence has only brought the struggle for life from a physical to a mental plane, the battle for better degrees and jobs.

In conclusion, the increasing affluence of our society. today has brought about many changes to our people, improved their lifestyle, raised their living standards, and brought along with it a host of new problems we must deal with. Hence, there is no denying that it has deeply affected the lives of the people in my country and will continue to shape and mould them in the ages to come. As they say, nothing is perfect, and ultimately, affluence must be accepted with all its flaws, and a balance struck between the material and spiritual world.

 


Q3: The increasing population in the Third World is a major cause of its poverty. Comment.

 

Exam Remarks by tutor for GP:
Strengths: a) Most of the students who attempted this question understood its essence and did recognise the fact that there are other factors, besides increasing population, which cause the Third World’s poverty.

Weaknesses:
a) Although they have adequate knowledge, the students failed to demonstrate the linkage between the causes and effects of the Third World’s poverty. b) The main fault of most scripts is that they lacked examples or appropriate ones to illustrate their points.

c) Some scripts showed inconsistency in the conclusion reached with that of the arguments presented. d) A number of students have the misconception that increasing population means overpopulation, where in truth, the latter is radically different from the former.

Overpopulation is a situation where the carrying capacity of the land is unable to sustain its population at a reasonable standard of living. Hence, increasing population may lead to overpopulation with its limited resources and thus, any further increase in population will lead to a fall in the standard of living.

c) Some students also narrowly defined poverty as a situation where the population is suffering from chronic hunger only.

 

Introduction
Students have to recognize the fact that poverty in the Third World is a major social issue where increasing population does play a part. However, increasing population alone does not cause its poverty. Rather, poverty in the Third World arises due to the interplay of many other factors such as physical environment, civil unrest, poor social structure, ineffective government system and so on.

Poverty in the Third World arises dues to the interplay of the following causes

a) Increasing population diverts economic resources, from their use for the necessary economic development, to feed its population. Less percentage of the national revenue is available for economic betterment as governments concentrate on meeting the increasing population’s basic needs. With limited resources, the unwieldy growth of population leads to many problems such as illiteracy, poor health and problem of housing and sanitation, which trap the countries in the abyss of poverty as economic development is greatly hindered.

b) Linked to the above point is poor social structure which encourages large families. Third World countries are agrarian in nature, heavily dependent on agricultural activities. Hence, more hands are needed in the fields as sources of labour. This gives rise to increasing population and its related consequences.

c) Ineffective Government System i. In the Third World countries, cash crops are of ten grown for export and high profits e.g. Tanzania, Uganda and Gambia which are growing millet, cotton or peanuts for export. It is an at tempt on the governments part to increase national revenue. However, as these crops are susceptible to the fluctuating world market demand, these countries are extremely vulnerable and suffer great losses when the prices of their crops drop. The consequence is even more serious when the countries practise monoculture or in cur large amounts of bad debt from the developed countries. Even if they do make profits from the sale of the cash crops, most of the people are still unable to improve their situation of poverty due to the unequal distribution of wealth as discussed in (d).

ii. Sometimes, a corrupt government may be the cause of a country’s poverty. The people of authority may misappropriate the country’s funds for their own selfish use, leaving the population in dire straits of poverty while they live in luxury. An example would be ex-president. Ferdinand Marcos, of the Philippines.

d) Unequal distribution of wealth – Many of the Third World countries’ land are owned by a small number of rich people who practise economic profiteering for their own sake. The many poor are exploited of their labour, being paid meagre sums of money which are not sufficient to feed their families. The products of their labour earn much profits for these landowners, further widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Hence, the majority of the population gets sucked deeper into the mire and the chance of alleviating the problem of poverty further eludes them.

e) Civil unrest not only prevents the appropriate use of the national revenue to enhance economic development by purchasing unnecessary weaponry, it also creates economic instability as potential external investors will be discouraged from investing their capital in the country.

f) With respect to the physical environment, lack of natural resources, harsh climate and barren land unconducive for growing of crops prevent some of the Third World countries from achieving economic betterment.

Where countries are prone to natural disasters e.g. India, more of the national revenue will also have to be diverted to the restoration of the damaged amenities and infrastructure, thus reducing the amount available for the enhancement of the economy.

g) Inadequate economic structure of the country such as poor infrastructure discourages potential investors from investing their capital in the country, posing an obstacle to the growth of the economy. High illiteracy rate in the Third World countries also acts as a hindrance to increased productivity and hence economic development.

CONCLUSION
An increasing population no doubt causes poverty in the Third World. However, it is not the main cause of its poverty. Internal unrest, unequal distribution of wealth, the physical environment and so on, as mentioned, too play an important role in causing Third World’s poverty. An increasing population in a country that has a good government, economic stability and so on, would not be plagued by poverty.

 

(Read more full length answers of Economic Issues & Poverty here.)

 


Q4: The problems of hunger and poverty in the world today are mainly caused by too many people and too little land. Do you agree?

 

The less-developed countries of today are plagued with countless problems of overpopulation, low employment rates, poverty. hunger and high crime rates. They have increasingly expanding populations, for example, China with a population of one billion, and low literacy rates. Pakistan is also very good example, with a literacy rate of only twenty five per cent. Also most less developed nations place their emphasis on agriculture. In other words, most of the less-developed nations are agrarian countries. As the less-developed nations are facing a serious problem of overpopulation, people tend to think that the root of their problem of hunger and poverty is “too many people; too little land.” Now, how true. is this statement?

“Too many people; too little land” does contribute to the problems of poverty and hunger that less-developed nations face, but only to a certain extent. Farmers in less developed nations usually practise traditional methods of farming: they still plough the land using buffaloes and require large amounts of manpower during harvest time. The traditional practises do not yield enough food crops, and are unable to keep pace with the alarming growth rate of the population, giving rise to the condition of “too many mouths to feed.” In addition, many farmers in less developed nations, for example, India and China, still practise land fragmentation. When a father dies, the land that he owns is divided among his sons, and the land that each individual son owns is further divided into event smaller portions when he passes the land to his son. A small piece of land is obviously not high-yielding, and moreover farmers in the less-developed countries cannot afford machinery or buy fertilizers to increase crop yield.

Another reason why “too many people; too little land” accounts for poverty and hunger in the less-developed nations is ignorance. Farmers in the less-developed countries are ignorant of new techniques or methods to cultivate crops. Therefore they tend to over utilise the land, rendering the land unsuitable for crop-growing. A short age of land will definitely worsen the problem of poverty and hunger.

Also, most less-developed countries that depend heavily on agriculture are found in regions where conditions are not so desirable for agriculture, for example Tibet or Ethiopia. Due to the lack of fertile and cultivable land. food production is insufficient to meet the never ending needs of the rapidly expanding population.

However, “too many people; too little land” does not account totally for the problems of poverty and hunger in the less-developed nations. A very good reason for poverty and hunger is unequal land distribution. In less developed nations, most of the land is often owned by rich land-owners, while the farmers only work for them. Much of the revenue obtained from the sale of the harvested crops is pocketed by the rich land-owners. They have the lion’s share, leaving only a meagre amount to be distributed among the farmers. Due to low income, the farmers have low purchasing power, and therefore they cannot afford to buy sufficient food for their families or send their children for education. As their children are lowly-educated or sometimes have not even been to school at all, they do not have the choice but have to become farmers also. This causes them to be trapped in the poverty cycle and it is very hard, if not impossible, for them to break away from it.

Despite the advent of the Green Revolution, farmers in the less-developed countries are unable to benefit much as they are too poor to afford machinery such as tractors or fertilizers and the new strains of crops. Ironically, it is the rich farmers or land-owners who have benefitted most out of the Green Revolution. Farmers in the less developed countries often only grow cash crops, rather than food crops which might support their populations. Moreover, as agriculture in less-developed countries is very dependent on climate and weather, as they can ill-afford greenhouses, they are susceptible to natural dis asters such as typhoons, droughts, which can prove to be disastrous for them.

Last but not least, governments also contribute to the poverty and hunger that their nations face. Governments often place price ceilings on crops, which only benefit city-dwellers at the expense of less income for the rural farmers. Instead of concentrating on social welfare or agriculture, governments channel large amounts of money to weapons such as missiles and fighter planes. They perceive a strong army as a symbol of a strong nation, which is obviously not true!

Actually the developed nations and the United Nations can help by providing aid. Monetary aid can help to alleviate the problems of hunger and poverty by buying in ample food or sponsoring certain projects such as the buying of fertilizers or better strains of food crops. The developed countries can offer technological help by giving the farmers the latest information on methods of cultivation and sending people to those less-developed nations to assist the farmers on how to grow crops in efficient and economic ways.

Last but not least, the developed nations should stop exploiting the less-developed countries. They should cancel the debts of the less-developed nations, or only re quire them to pay back the principal sum of money, and not the interest.

In conclusion, the only way less-developed nations can be free from poverty and hunger is through the help of the developed nations, but the governments themselves should also strive to deal with the problems of poverty and hunger.

 


Q5: Evaluate the success of the newly industrialised nations.

 

The economic success of CIVET, an acronym for the countries Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa (which in the late 2000s were widely regarded as the next emerging market economies that would rise quickly during the coming decades) is a good example of the success of newly industrialised countries. [The previous set of countries were BRIC, or Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The FIRST set of successful NIC were the “Asian Tigers” of Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea].

The success of the newly industrialised countries (NIC) spurs developing countries such as South Africa and India to embark on industrialisation. The success of newly industrialised countries can be attributed to political stability and effective trade policies.

Political stability forms the foundation for economic growth and development. Therefore a good government is essential in promoting industrialisation. The presence of an efficient and honest government is crucial to the success f newly developed countries such as Singapore. Singapore is a good example of a country where the government plays a major role in economic development. The Singapore government assists local businessmen to venture overseas and promotes Singapore as a global trading centre. Another example of a newly industrialised country is Mexico. The government promoted economic cooperation with the United States and Canada by signing the North America Free Trade Agreement. Both examples mentioned in the paragraph above illustrate that government participation in shaping the economy has led to the rise of newly-industrialised countries.

Trade policies adopted by newly industrialised countries encourage foreign investments. Taxes on foreign companies and custom duties on imports are greatly reduced to vitalise trade. Multinational companies such as IBM are given tax incentives to set up offices and factories in newly industrialised countries. With such attractive trading incentives, investments pour into newly industrialised countries. Foreign investments thus promote industrialisation.

The culture and social values of newly industrialised countries contribute to their success to a large extent. Newly industrialised countries place a strong emphasis on achievements. The societies of such countries advocate meritocracy. Meritocracy promotes competition and therefore urges individuals within these societies to excel in the economic and technical fields. Handsome re wards by the employers spur employees to upgrade them selves in order to climb up the social ladder. Meritocracy is evident in countries such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hence, the emphasis on merits and achievements within society has contributed to the success of newly industrialised countries.

Newly industrialised countries invest in the education of their people. An increase in the literacy rate enables people to upgrade their skills. Newly-industrialised countries boast high educational standards. Education has turned out technicians, scientists, engineers and administrators who contribute to industrialisation after leaving school. A highly educated and specialised work force contributes to the success of newly developing countries.

The rapid industrialisation of countries such as South Korea and Taiwan can be attributed to imported technology from the West, especially from the United States. These newly industrialised countries absorb the techno logical know-how to produce better electronic products such as televisions and calculators. Hence the success of newly industrialised states can be attributed to the import of technology from developed countries.

In conclusion, the newly industrialised countries also benefit from being late developers compared to developed countries such as France and Britain. Newly industrialised countries can therefore learn from the mistakes of the developed countries.

In future the global liberation of trade marked by the World Trade Organisation (WTO)  [formerly aka General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT]  is likely to pro mote further growth and development in newly industrialised countries all over the world.

 


Q6: Do you agree that foreign talent is essential to ensure Singapore’s survival ?

 

Question Type: Direct Argumentative
Possible approaches to the question: Agree or Disagree, Extent approach Key terms: Foreign talent, necessary, Singapore, survival

Definitions/Implications of

a) foreign talent: Foreigners who seek employment opportunities in other countries, and bring with them new expertise, knowledge and techniques that enhance the host country in some way. Lower end jobs, e.g. maids, construction workers, clerks etc are NOT considered foreign talent.

b) essential: cannot do without, vital. c) survival: to remain socially or economically viable and healthy.

Fact: Singapore has approximately 1.68m foreigners in Singapore, (about 34% of the population in Singapore) 70% of which are on temporary passes, whilst the remainder are either already Singapore citizens or holding PR-ships.

Why we need foreign talent:
1) This acts to aid us in security, as well as in beefing up the shrinking labour force in Singapore. A shrinking labour force would directly affect the economy if we did not implement measures to ensure its sustenance or growth. MM Lee made a comparison to Japan, which is generally more xenophobic and unwelcoming towards foreigners migrating to their country. The result has been a significantly weakened economy in Japan.

2) Immigrants, amongst them a significant number of foreign talents, make up for the children that Singaporeans are not having. Since Singaporeans are not replacing themselves, the burden on the young to sustain their families, and the Singapore economy, will be too heavy without foreign talent coming in.

3) Foreign talent bring in fresh knowledge, techniques and expertise to Singapore. In Feb 2009, PM Lee stressed that it was important to keep the business environment in Singapore competitive, and to allow foreign talent into Singapore as a critical mass is important to foster innovation and enterprise.

4) The influx of foreign talent provides healthy competition for Singaporeans who need to stay relevant and efficient to remain afloat in this fast-moving economy. This will work against any complacence in the younger generation that their rice-bowls are guaranteed in a fast-moving society.

5) Singapore is moving itself towards being a global city that encourages people to sink their roots here, including foreigners. Being cosmopolitan is important to us, and the exchange of cultures also improves our social health.

What are the problems that come with accepting foreign talent in Singapore?

1) The most common and significant complaint is that of the stiff competition for jobs and housing that foreign talents provide when they enter our society. Many are willing to take lower salaries for the same work, or bring in new expertise, knowledge or experience that locals do not have. Thus, this makes them much more attractive to employers.

Many locals worry that if Singapore is to depend on foreign talent, the government may not see the necessity of investing in further opportunities for local Singaporeans to grow and develop themselves in their fields of expertise. To address this concern, the government has repeatedly over the years, given Singaporeans the assurance that they will ensure that investment in such programmes for upgrading will be given, and that local Singaporeans have priority when it comes to areas such as university admissions.

 


Links to other GP Topics: The Arts | Philosophy | “Repeated Trends” |  Science & Technology | “Singapore” | Global & regional Issues| Social Issues | Politics | Religion | Mass Media |

 

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