International Development Planning Review

Global householding in a city-state: Emerging trends in Singapore

International Development Planning Review (2006), 28, (4), 475–497.

Abstract

As a small city-state scarce in natural resources and aspiring to become a major player in a globalised world, Singapore exemplifies an urban node criss-crossed by transnational practices and networks of capital, labour, business and commodity markets, and cultural flows. The social, cultural and economic fabric of this city-state is thus not only woven out of local elements but involves a high density of transnational relationships. Singapore hence provides an important test-bed for the main hypothesis of the concept of global householding, that is, the observation that the formation and sustenance of households is increasingly reliant on the international movement of people and transactions among household members residing in more than one national territory. In this light, this paper seeks to provide a broad overview of recent changes and trends in the structure and shape of the household in Singapore. These include the formation of transnational Singaporean households with different members located in two or more countries (including spouses working abroad and children studying overseas); the introduction of foreign domestic workers into the 'sanctity' of the Singapore household as a 'solution' to the care crisis on the domestic front; an increase in international marriages involving Singapore nationals (including the import of 'foreign brides' from less developed countries); and finally, the rise of international adoption, partly as a result of the failure of couples to conceive given later marriages and stressful lifestyles.

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Author details

Lam, Theodora

Yeoh, Brenda

Huang, Shirlena