Seen and heard this week


Seen and heard this week is a weekly column highlighting thought leadership from the NUS community


A report in The Straits Times on 25 September highlighted a local study by the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) and National Parks Board that demonstrated the benefits of horticultural therapy on the elderly’s well-being. The study, led by Associate Professor Roger Ho from NUS Medicine, is the first to show that joining a guided group activity involving plants reduces a type of component in the blood associated with inflammatory diseases such as depression, dementia and cancer, and helps maintain levels of another component that prevents the brain from degenerating. Assoc Prof Ho said that this implies that the elderly can use various parks in Singapore as therapeutic venues, which has a biological effect to prevent chronic diseases. Another researcher behind the study, NUS Medicine Professor Kua Ee Heok, noted how horticultural therapy is well established around the world as a means of improving patients’ quality of life.

On 26 September, The Straits Times published the views of NUS Economics Associate Professor Chia Ngee Choon and Ms Chia Han Mae, an actuarial data analyst with Munich Re, on the effectiveness of the Baby Bonus and other incentives in raising fertility rates. The authors looked at data on pro-natalist policies in Singapore and the total fertility rate and found that policies to lower the long-term costs of raising children may be more effective than the one-off Baby Bonus gift in encouraging couples to have more kids. They opined that it might be worthwhile for policymakers to provide mothers, particularly those in the middle-income bracket, with more benefits to offset a higher proportion of their child-rearing costs than the current 9 per cent.

First-year NUS Arts and Social Sciences and Tembusu College student Ng Chia Wee wrote about what the “fear of missing out” means to millennials in an age of disruption in a commentary for Channel NewsAsia on 26 September. Chia Wee said that faced with significant levels of uncertainty as they enter the workforce, millennials seek to reduce it by engaging in a second education arms race — securing internships, overseas experiences, leadership positions and the like for the sake of doing so, rather than focusing on value-adding and developing mastery. He offered three pieces of advice to millennials looking to better cope with an uncertain future — recognise that they have an open and accessible global playing field and a chance to shape the future; stake out their own career paths and educational trajectories instead of comparing themselves with their peers or fretting over the formula for success; and seek out new opportunities which might present themselves more frequently precisely because of continued disruptive changes.

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