SUSS study to shed light on social problems and aid policy development

Singapore, August 16, 2021 – As Singapore faces an increasingly ageing population, the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is embarking on a study on how much time Singaporeans spend at the workplace, school, and at home, and what are the types of family routines and caregiving arrangements for the young and elderly household members.

In support of this first-of-its-kind panel research, National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and The Ngee Ann Kongsi (NAK) formalised today their intention to donate $1 million and $1.2 million respectively over five years to fund the study, which will be called NCSS-The Ngee Ann Kongsi 360 Panel Research. Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Education and Social and Family Development graced the signing ceremony as Guest-of-Honour.

Led by Associate Professor Leong Chan-Hoong from SUSS Centre for Applied Research, the research team aims to interview 1,000 families or some 3,000 residents over five years.

“Through this study, we hope to gain longitudinal insights to emerging household dynamics and challenges, particularly in the context of a fast ageing society,” said Associate Professor Leong.

By assessing how time is spent by all household members across multiple domains such as employment, parenting, caregiving, and learning, the study aims to provide comprehensive insights on our daily rituals, how time is utilised on weekdays and weekends, the type of activities that Singaporeans feel most rewarding or challenged, and how young and elderly caregiving can be better managed.

The data collected will be made available to policy makers, academics, students, and practitioners in various expertise areas and help stakeholders make informed decisions on future programmes, policies, and action plans for Singapore.

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of SUSS, said, “We are honoured to receive these generous donations in support of our applied social inquiry. Beyond providing insights on the impact of well-being and social mobility, this study will also bridge an important gap in policy research. This will ultimately benefit Singapore as a nation, through refinement and improvement of its policies.”

Ms Tan Li San, Chief Executive Officer of NCSS, said, “NCSS’ partnership with SUSS and NAK is another example of our collaborative efforts with community partners to better serve our social service users. The study will offer insights to help us better shape our services and provide as feedback for policies. This endeavour is also another step towards making the sector a more data-driven and evidence-based one.”

Mr Jamie Teo, Vice President and Chairman of the Donation & Charity Sub-Committee, The Ngee Ann Kongsi, said, “The Ngee Ann Kongsi has been exploring opportunities to strengthen our support for philanthropic causes that benefit Singaporeans from all walks and races, and this includes contributing to meaningful research that seeks to improve and help the community. We hope that our intended funding will empower SUSS with the resources to build new frontiers in research, bridge gaps, and advance the holistic well-being of society through the panel study.”

The panel research will also identify reasons why some families languish socially, economically and emotionally, what are the critical success factors that enable vulnerable households and/or individuals to break away from the vicious economic cycle, and identify suitable interventions from external sources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also heralded a new set of routines, social exchanges, and consumption patterns. The transitions into the new normal also imposes the greatest disruptions on elderly residents, many of whom are already feeling segregated emotionally and socially by the pandemic lockdown. Among working adults, new rituals such as work-from-home have benefited those who yearn for flexibility. For others however, this arrangement has a disruptive impact on family time and eroded work-life balance as they are expected to remain contactable at all times.

“This research is timely for Singapore’s evolving social service sector, where many agencies have historically incorporated research work with academics. It will not only act as a catalyst for inter-agencies collaboration, but also provide learning opportunities for our SUSS students. As interviewers for this research work, they can apply their knowledge, harness and practice their skills on a real-world platform with professional guidance,” added Associate Professor Leong.

The first year panel research will start in September 2021. The preliminary findings are expected to be released in mid-2022.

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About the Singapore University of Social Sciences

Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is a university with a rich heritage in inspiring lifelong education, and transforming society through social sciences. We develop work-ready graduates and work-adaptive alumni to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness to meet the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning. 

We offer over 80 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes, which are flexible, modular and inter-disciplinary, catering to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. SUSS also offers a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills upgrading of Singapore’s workforce. 

Our programmes and courses are made available through our five schools:

  • S R Nathan School of Human Development
  • School of Business
  • School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
  • School of Law
  • School of Science and Technology

To date, over 38,000 graduates have experienced our unique brand of education, and each year, about 15,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.

The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), as part of SUSS, leads in the field of research on adult learning to build capabilities of the training and adult education sector in Singapore and beyond.  

For more information on SUSS, please visit 

About The Ngee Ann Kongsi

The Ngee Ann Kongsi is a non-profit Teochew philanthropic organisation focused on educational, cultural and charitable activities in Singapore, while placing a deep emphasis on preserving the Teochew heritage. The organisation is an active advocate in education which funds scholarships for high-performing students and study awards to disadvantaged students. It was founded in or about 1845 by Teochew immigrants from China providing welfare services for its members, and was formally incorporated under the Ngee Ann Kongsi (Incorporation) Ordinance in 1933.

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