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Promoting ethnic diversity in public housing: Singapore and England compared

Edward Ti (Yong Pung How School of Law and Urban Institute, Singapore Management University, Singapore, Singapore)
Alvin See (Yong Pung How School of Law, Singapore Management University, Singapore, Singapore)

Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law

ISSN: 2514-9407

Article publication date: 28 November 2023

Issue publication date: 15 February 2024




Although the Singapore model of ethnic integration through its public housing programme is well known, the formula for replicating its success elsewhere remains underexplored. This study aims to identify the criteria for successful transplantation, specifically by identifying the housing tenure types that are most amenable to the implementation of the Singapore model.


Through a comparative study of two common law jurisdictions – Singapore and England – this article highlights the differences in their housing landscapes and how such differences impact upon the adoption of ethnic integration policies through housing. The article also unpacks, through a cross-disciplinary lens, the concepts of public housing and housing tenures, drawing heavily on socio-legal and housing literature.


The authors observe that the implementation of ethnic integration policies is best justified and most easily achieved in leasehold estates that exhibit a strong tenurial relationship with the state retaining a more than notional role. Public housing in Singapore being an exemplar of this model, the implementation of its ethnic integration policy is relatively straightforward. By contrast, the shrinking public housing sector in England means that adoption of a similar policy would have limited reach. Even then, the political–legal environment in England that promotes home ownership is potentially hostile to the adoption of such policy as it may be seen as an infringement of private property right.


The cross-jurisdiction comparison is supplemented by an interdisciplinary analysis that seeks to bridge differences in the categorisation of tenure in housing and law literatures so as to promote cross-disciplinary dialogue.



Ti, E. and See, A. (2024), "Promoting ethnic diversity in public housing: Singapore and England compared", Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 68-86.



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