As pivotal events such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and misbehaviour by major global financial institutions roil the world, Singapore's youths are choosing responsible profit-making.
In the ‘Hapitalist Survey of Youths' Attitudes Towards Money and Money-Making 2009-2010’, 87% of youths said if they could earn $1 million, they want to first weigh the implications of their decisions on society, the community, the environment and socioeconomic systems. They agreed with the statement: "If my actions will be harmful, I will find alternative ways, even if it means I will earn less money in the short term."
Only 13% chose the shortest, cheapest and quickest way to earn $1 million, even if it means cheating suppliers and employees, damaging the environment and socioeconomic systems or creating other long-term problems, the survey showed.
About 82% of respondents said they are aware that businesses' pursuit of short-term profit at all costs has contributed to significant breakdowns in food, water, energy and environmental systems, which are predicted to cause threatening shortages by the time the youths are in their 40s or 50s. Some respondents remarked that they are "horrified", "hopeless", "angry" and even "hopeful". In 2009 and 2010, the survey polled students from neighbourhood schools, elite junior colleges, local universities and polytechnics and also a small number of working youths.
The survey is by Hapitalist (for a happier capitalism), a new non-profit in Singapore that is developing practical ways to make long-term thinking and responsibility an integral part of the profit motive.
"The survey results clearly reflect a maturing young society that is aware of the repercussions that our actions can inflict on the community at large," says Grace Chow, a recent graduate from Singapore Management University who headed the survey team.
The people who most influenced the youths' view about money are parents, each parent selected by 21% of youths, while friends are a distant second, chosen by 12%.
The respondents' top choice as a guide on responsible profit-making is real-life examples of individuals and businesses. Print media, preferred by 13%, is second choice.