SRN Policy Outreach Event, 28 April: Inequality, Social Inclusion, and the Social Compact

Singapore Research Nexus Policy Outreach Event: Inequality, Social Inclusion, and the Social Compact

Date & Time: 2:00-5:00pm, Friday, April 28, 2023
Venue: NUS FASS Research Division Seminar Room (#6-42)/Zoom
Venue Address: NUS AS7 Shaw Foundation Building, 5 Arts Link, 117570
Directions: To get to the Research Division Seminar Room, go to Level 6 of the AS7 Shaw Foundation Building and turn right after exiting the lift, going around the corridor past the washrooms. Turn left and you will see the Research Division Seminar Room directly ahead.
In-person: Eventbrite
Online: Zoom

2:00 pm to 2:15 pm Registration
2:15 pm to 2:20 pm Opening Remarks by Dr Elaine Lynn-Ee HO | Professor, NUS Geography, and FASS Vice Dean of Research
2:20 pm to 2:25 pm Introduction of Presenters by Dr EeCheng ONG | Senior Lecturer, NUS Economics
2:25 pm to 2:45 pm ‘Disability and Food Couriers in Singapore’ by Dr Renyi HONG | Assistant Professor, NUS Communications and New Media
2:45 pm to 2:55 pm Q & A
2:55 pm to 3:15 pm ‘How Do Managers Perceive Teleworkers in Singapore? The Roles of Gender, Parenthood and Policy Contexts’ by Dr Senhu WANG | Assistant Professor, NUS Sociology and Anthropology
3:15 pm to 3:25 pm   Q & A
3:25 pm to 3:45 pm    ‘Children and the Remaining Gender Gaps in the Labor Market’ by Dr Jessica PAN | Professor, NUS Economics
3:45 pm to 3:55 pm Q & A
3:55 pm to 4:15 pm   ‘Social Capital and Integration of Cross-National Families with Low Income: Roles of the Family for Foreign Spouses’ Integration’ by Dr Hyekyung CHOO | Associate Professor, NUS Social Work
4:15 pm to 4:25 pm Q & A
4:25 pm to 4:30 pm Closing Remarks by Dr Qiushi FENG | Associate Professor, NUS Sociology and Anthropology, and FASS Assistant Dean of Research
4:30 pm to 5:00 pm Refreshments & Networking with Participants

Presentations and Speakers

Disability and Food Couriers in Singapore

In recent years, food delivery platforms in Southeast Asia have accepted people with disabilities as delivery workers, framing it as a form of economic empowerment. The platform Grab has especially leveraged on images of disability to advance its brand, presenting itself as an ESG organization. In this talk, I frame this visibility as an “economic bargain,” surfacing the problems and harms that the disabled face in their work. Drawing from interviews and interactions with disabled food couriers and advocacy organizations, I reveal how the accommodations provided by platforms are both precious and partial, and they relate to a long history in Singapore whereby “work” is easily determined as the endpoint of rehabilitation. Due to this, many disabled food couriers risk worsening their disabilities as they work. Located against regulatory attempts to improve gig work conditions, I highlight how disabled food couriers continue to remain at the periphery, outside regulatory oversight.

Dr Renyi HONG is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. He is interested in labour and its relationships with affect, technology, and capitalism. His first monograph, Passionate Work, explores the uses of passion as a means of generating a milieu of endurance for those left out of the good life. His monograph in development, Bearable Media, examines the biopolitical relationship between human adaptation and computational media. His works can be found in Social Text, New Media & Society, European Journal of Cultural Studies, among others.

Selected Projects & Publications

Passionate Work: Endurance After the Good Life. (Duke University Press, 2022).

Hong, R. (2022). Telecommuting Pedagogies: White Plasticity and the Ecological Imaginaries of Working from Home. Social Text, 40(2), 21-48.

Hong, R. (2022). Curative Platforms: Disability, Access, and Food Delivery Work in Singapore. New Media & Society, Onlinefirst.

Hong, R. (2021). Road Warriors to Digital Nomads: Portable Computers, Habitats, and Remote Work. Cultural Studies, Onlinefirst.

How Do Managers Perceive Teleworkers in Singapore? The Roles of Gender, Parenthood and Policy Contexts 

The rise of teleworking during the Covid-19 pandemic has received extensive academic and policy attention. Although the impact of teleworking on the labor supply side (i.e., employee) outcomes is well studied, little is known about the potential consequences from the labor demand (i.e., employer) perceptive. Drawing on a sample of managers in Singapore, this study uses a factorial vignette experiment to examine how managers perceive employees taking up teleworking and how their ratings vary by teleworkers’ gender-parenthood status and different policy contexts. The results show that although teleworking leads to significantly worse employer perceptions in work commitment, productivity, team spirit and promotion opportunities for all gender-parenthood groups (i.e., mothers, fathers, single men, and single women), the scarring effects are more pronounced for non-mother groups (especially fathers) than mothers. In the contexts where teleworking policy and its use are only applicable to certain groups especially mothers, the scarring effects of teleworking are intensified for all groups even including mothers. In contrast, if teleworking policy and its use are not associated with gender or parenthood status, the scarring effects of teleworking can be significantly mitigated for all groups. These findings highlight the importance of “de-labeling” teleworking from specific gender-parenthood groups to address the potential social inequalities in the future of work.

Dr Senhu WANG is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Family and Population Research, National University of Singapore (NUS). He obtained his PhD in Sociology from the University of Cambridge. His research interests include work and family, medical sociology, demography and quantitative research methods. He has published more than 40 articles on many international top journals and has won the Award for Promising Researcher at the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences in 2022. His research has been widely reported by more than 100 media and organizations over the world such as BBC, CNN, Financial Times, Guardian, Bloomberg etc.

Selected Publications

Gong, S. & Wang, S. (equal authorship) (2022). Family Policy Awareness and Marital Intentions: A National Survey Experimental Study. Demography, 59(1), 247-266.

Wang, S., Kamerāde, D., Bessa, I., Burchell, B., Gifford, J., Green, M., & Rubery, J. (2022). The impact of reduced working hours and furlough policies on workers’ mental health at the onset of COVID-19 pandemic: A longitudinal study. Journal of Social Policy.

Wang, S., Kamerāde, D., Burchell, B., Coutts, A., & Balderson, S.U. (2022). What matters more for employees’ mental health: job quality or job quantity? Cambridge Journal of Economics, 46(2), 251-274.

Wang, S. & Morav, L. (2021). Participation in civil society organizations and ethnic minorities’ interethnic friendships in Britain. British Journal of Sociology, 72(3), 808-828.

Children and the Remaining Gender Gaps in the Labor Market

Despite significant advances and the converging roles of men and women in society, gender differences in the labor market remain remarkably persistent.  The persistence of these gaps is all the more puzzling as women are now increasingly more educated than men and better prepared for the labor market than ever before. This talk focuses on the role of children and discusses how many potential explanations for gender inequality in the labor market continue to be related to the fact that raising children continue to impose differential demands on women’s time relative to men’s time. I discuss recent research on “child penalties” in the labor market and provide new evidence on the contribution of such penalties to aggregate gender inequality in the United States over time. Turning to mechanisms, I provide a synthesis of the recent literature on workplace flexibility, gender norms, and highlight countervailing trends that may have raised the time demands of parenthood. Finally, I discuss policies that aim to address work-family trade-offs.

Dr Jessica PAN is Professor at the NUS Department of Economics. Her research interests include labor economics, immigration, applied microeconomics, economics of education, gender, and development. Jessica’s research focuses on applied topics in labor economics and the economics of education. Her current projects examine gender differences in labor market and educational outcomes; international migration and the labor market effects on source and host countries; and topics in labor economics such as discrimination, marriage markets, and the returns to education. Her work has been published in several leading peer-reviewed journals, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Labor Economics, and the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Selected Projects & Publications

“Gender Differences in Job Search and the Earnings Gap: Evidence from the Field and the Lab” (joint with Patricia Cortes, Laura Pilossoph, Ernesto Reuben, and Basit Zafar), Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming.

“The Returns to an Additional Year of Education for College Graduates” (joint with Jie Gong), Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming.

“The Effects of Sexism on American Women: The Role of Norms vs. Discrimination” (joint with Kerwin Charles and Jonathan Guryan), Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming.

“Social Norms, Labor Market Opportunities and the Marriage Gap Between Skilled and Unskilled Women” (joint with Marianne Bertrand, Patricia Cortes, and Claudia Olivetti), Review of Economic Studies, 2021, 88(4): 1936-1978.

“When Time Binds: Substitutes for Household Production, Returns to Working Long Hours, and the Skilled Gender Wage Gap” (joint with Patricia Cortes), Journal of Labor Economics, 2019, 37(2): 351-398.

Social Capital and Integration of Cross-National Families with Low Income: Roles of the Family for Foreign Spouses’ Integration

In the past decade, international marriages have comprised of a stable high proportion of 25-30% new civil marriages every year in Singapore. Among cross-national families formed by international marriage, those with low income have drawn close attention from the general public and concerned government ministries for their unique psychosocial needs as well as economic hardship. Focusing on the multifaceted feature of social integration for marriage migrants, I propose an empirical model for testing a linkage from integration in structural, social, familial, cultural, and civic spheres to perceived integration in the host society. The analyses of survey data from 333 foreign spouses from low-income cross-national families in Singapore uncovered the significant positive effects of bonding social capital embedded in the family on the foreign spouses’ perceived integration in and acceptance of the host society. However, there was no empirical association of integration in other spheres, such as structural, social, and cultural spheres, with integration and acceptance in the study sample. Narratives from in-depth qualitative interviews illustrates how positive family relationships and functioning – family-level integration – contributed to the foreign spouses’ perceived integration in Singapore. Implications for social interventions will be discussed.

hyekyung chooDr Hyekyung CHOO is an Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore. Her research areas include adolescent health risk behaviours and cyber-wellness issues, particularly Internet Gaming Disorder as well as social support systems and service use among low-income immigrant/cross-national families and their children. As Principal Investigator, she was awarded a Social Science Research Council Thematic Grant in 2018 for an interdisciplinary research project on social capital and integration of cross-national families with low income in Singapore, and completed the project in 2022. She is currently working on empirical articles on the moderating role of social support on the effect of family functioning on children’s resilience; social service usage patterns and experiences; the help seeking process of foreign spouses experiencing family violence; social navigation of marriage dissolution; and social integration modelling for marriage migrants, using the data from cross-national families with low income in Singapore.

Selected Projects & Publications

‘Social Capital and Integration of Low-Income Binational Families in Singapore’. Social Science Research Thematic Grant. (2018-2022).

Choo H., Neo Y.W., Lee I. Financial needs and help-seeking of cross-national families with low income in Singapore (working paper)

Tan, R. S. H., & Choo, H. Families-in-law: Social support for foreign spouses of cross-national marriage. (working paper)

Tan, E., & Choo, H. (2022). An exploratory study on the challenges faced by social workers working with transnational families in Singapore. International Social Work, 0(0).



Dr EeCheng ONG is Senior Lecturer at the NUS Department of Economics. Her teaching areas include the economics of inequality, labor economics, and microeconomics. She explores ways to create opportunities for students to practice near and far transfer of learning.


 Opening Remarks


Dr Elaine Lynn-Ee HO is Professor at the Department of Geography and Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore. She is currently Vice-Dean of the FASS Research Division. Her research focuses on two domains: first, transnational ageing and care in the Asia-Pacific; and second, diaspora engagement and diplomacy. Both topics address her overarching interest in citizenship geographies. She is author of Citizens in Motion: Emigration, Immigration and Re-migration Across China’s Borders (2019, Stanford University Press).

Closing Remarks

Quishi FENG

Dr Qiushi FENG is Associate Professor at the NUS Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Assistant Dean of Research at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He is Deputy Director of the NUS Centre for Family and Population Research (CFPR). His research fields are aging and health, population studies, and economic sociology. His research has been supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE), and the National Medical Research Council (NMRC). He is currently leading a MOE Tier-2 project, Lifelong Education for Aging Productively (LEAP) in Singapore. 


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