Friday 22 Feb 2019 | 23:11 | SYDNEY
Friday 22 Feb 2019 | 23:11 | SYDNEY

Development and air conditioning



24 March 2015 10:32

With Lee Kuan Yew having just passed away, an old quote of his has resurfaced:

Question: Anything else besides multicultural tolerance that enabled Singapore's success?

Answer: Air conditioning. Air conditioning was a most important invention for us, perhaps one of the signal inventions of history. It changed the nature of civilization by making development possible in the tropics. Without air conditioning you can work only in the cool early-morning hours or at dusk. The first thing I did upon becoming prime minister was to install air conditioners in buildings where the civil service worked. This was key to public efficiency.

Any economists or development experts out there who would like to evaluate this claim? Please email me on

(H/t Vox.)

You may also be interested in...