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Singapore ‘average wealth per adult’ owned by less than 20%

Singapore ‘average wealth per adult’ owned by less than 20%

Blowin’ In The Wind (reproduced with permission)

 Posted: 10 Oct 2010 04:21 AM PDT

 The Global Wealth Report 2010 by Credit Suisse shows how misleading averages can be.

 Singaporeans are the fourth richest people in the world in terms of personal wealth and second richest in Asia-Pacific with an average wealth of US$336,000 per adult, reported the Straits Times, quoting the report. 

Rank Country Mean wealth per adult
(in US$)
Median wealth per adult
(in US$)
1 Switzerland 372,692 41,547
2 Norway 326,530 157,239
3 Australia 320,909 124,234
4 Singapore 255,488 30,092
5 France 255,156 66,521
6 Sweden 243,506 29,211
7 United States 236,213 47,771
8 Luxembourg 234,972 111,631
9 United Kingdom 229,940 78,765
10 Italy 226,423 115,182


That’s a huge exaggeration.

 The Straits Times itself had the good grace to add the median wealth in Singapore is just US$30,092 per adult, according to the same report. In other words, half the adults in Singapore are worth over US$30,092.

 There are two things it did not mention, which you will find if you download the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report and the Credit Suisse Wealth Databook.

 The median wealth is higher in at least 25 countries. Here they are: Singapore is at the bottom of this table.

Country Median wealth per adult (in US$) Mean wealth per adult (in US$) GDP per capita (in US$)
Norway 157,239 326,530 88,590
Australia 124,234 320,909 53,862
Italy 115,182 226,423 35,231
Luxembourg 111,631 234,972 107,599
Finland 104,615 151,572 44,651
Japan 102,946 201,387 41,366
Iceland 95,026 207,666 38,835
Canada 94,700 225,896 45,658
Belgium 92,263 211,013 43,354
Ireland 90,025 151,196 48,578
Austria 86,946 180,392 47,087
United Kingdom 78,765 229,940 35,721
Netherlands 68,522 148,856 48,224
UAE 68,468 150,121 49,995
Spain 67,611 101,799 30,960
France 66,521 255,156 42,414
New Zealand 61,971 170,736 31,067
Germany 59,077 164,561 40,679
Kuwait 47,975 101,968 37,451
United States 47,771 236,213 47,702
Cyprus 45,189 86,478 28,379
Greece 42,576 99,413 29,060
Switzerland 41,547 372,692 69,839
Taiwan 38,106 119,152 17,927
S. Korea 37,389 70,751 20,265
Portugal 33,380 86,133 21,185
Singapore 30,092 255,488 40,336


Look at the table again and you will notice something else: Singapore is the only country where the median wealth per adult is lower than the per capita GDP.

 According to the report, just over 20 per cent of the adult population in Singapore has over US$100,000 in financial and non-financial assets.

 So how many have over US$336,000, the so-called average wealth per adult?

 That’s not mentioned in the report.

 And the report is about the adult population in Singapore.

 It can’t be just about adult Singaporeans because the numbers don’t tally.

 The report puts the total number of adults in Singapore at 3,711,000.

 There are not that many adult Singaporeans, according to the Department of Statistics.

 According to it, Singapore’s total resident population of citizens and permanent residents, aged 15 and up, is 3,117,300. That includes 2,778,900 aged 15 to 64 and 338,400 aged over 64.

 Visit the Credit Suisse media site to download the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report and the Credit Suisse Wealth Databook.

 This chart shows the wealth distribution pattern in the 10 countries with the highest average wealth. More than 54 per cent of the adult population in Singapore is worth between US$10,000 and US$100,000.

 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2010: Wealth distribution pattern Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2010: Wealth distribution pattern

The report says:

 Household wealth in Singapore grew steadily and vigorously during the past decade, rising from USD 105,000 at the outset to more than USD 250,000 at the end. Most was due to domestic growth and asset price increases rather than favourable exchange rate movements. As a consequence, Singapore now ranks fourth in the world in terms of average personal wealth.

 Household assets are divided about equally into financial and real assets, in part reflecting strong government encouragement for both saving and home ownership. Average debts of USD 37,600 are relatively low, equalling just 13% of total assets.

 The distribution of wealth in Singapore shows relatively small numbers of people with wealth below USD 1,000, and about two and a half times the global average of those with wealth above USD 100,000. Considering its very high average wealth, the country’s representation at top wealth levels is lower than might be expected. The country’s 110,000 members form just 0.3% of the global top 1%, while its overall population is 0.1% of the world total. This contrasts with other wealthy countries where the share of the top 1% may be ten times the population share. Part of the explanation may lie with public ownership of a number of large enterprises.

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Reader Feedback

9 Responses to “Singapore ‘average wealth per adult’ owned by less than 20%”

  1. Derrick says:

    it is over blown by our ridiculously highly priced HDB flats.
    We are not cash rich, can you cash out your HDB and live somewhere ? most cant.
    Mind you, newly launch EC are going for 750Psf….
    In addition, if u add in household that have just settled down in singapore, some of them are the super rich billionaires and multi-millionaires…u will get a skewed picture.

    • Desiree says:

      Switzerland: 372,692/41,547 = 8.97 (3sf)
      Singapore: 255,488/30,092 = 8.49 (3sf)
      Sweden: 243,506/29,211 = 8.34 (3sf)

      Tax havens tend to have skewed avg income figures. And I don’t understand why Luxembourg is even on that list. The population of Luxembourg is about 500,000, which is the same as Jurong, Clementi and Choa Chu Kang combined only. A commune of more than 1500 gets granted “city” status??
      There are more people living in one HDB block than in their entire “city”. Furthermore, their high income is due to flexible border crossing and lax banking regulations.

      “…the average income in Luxembourg is *not* $54,430 a year. Luxembourg is a small country of less than 500,000 people with very favorable banking laws. Each workday very large numbers of Belgians and Germans commute to Luxembourg to work in the financial industries located there for legal reasons. The labor these commuters perform adds to the size of Luxembourg’s economy, but these commuters do not add to the size of Luxembourg’s population. So when this tiny country’s economic output is divided by its population the figures come out far too high. ”


      My point is that, most statistics are skewed if you do not possess more information on the nature of the state in question.
      If you want to be happy in life, which is what I assume everyone wants to be, may I gently suggest trying not to sell yourself short. Get the full picture, and realise and count your many blessings.
      This is my advice as a Singaporean who left for what she mistakenly presumed to be greener pastures.

  2. manson says:

    Singaporean are assets rich as 78% stay in HDB flat which now sky high. But most of us are cash poor having to pay off the flat, cpf funds………..what left behind is so little for saving which I think can only last a few months if we are out of job. We are rich to the outside world but poor around us. We have no country side or kampong to fall behind but a city state which cost and look the same no matter where you go.

  3. Daniel says:

    if singaporeans are so rich, why are there so many singles in their late 30s and 40s.
    why are singaporean girls not choosing singaporean men?

    • Desiree says:

      Maybe because they are just as rich?
      Or maybe because not all of them are interested in getting married, or at least not as soon as before.
      Or maybe because they don’t understand why local men expect them to prefer local men. As a person, I really hope that a certain race or nationality is on your partner criteria list.
      And lastly, if it really bothers you, I’m sure if you call ROM they will tell you that the vast majority of marriages are still Singaporean-Singaporean marriages.
      Finding a partner has always been harder for some and easier for others. If it were really the foreigners causing this “Singapore-Bachelor-Excess” phenomena, then there should be a disproportionately large number of single men compared to single women, which, if you do some simple research, you will see is not the case. The number of singles has risen for both men and women.

      I quote from this source:

      “The number of singles (unmarried adults) is rising in the West as well as in Asian countries such as Singapore.4 It is becoming more common for people to defer marriage into their late 20s or even into their 30s for educational or occupational reasons. However, the state of being single can also be involuntary in nature. For example, in contemporary Singapore, it has been noted that the ranks of the singles include highly-educated women who have trouble finding “suitable” husbands and lowly-educated men who have trouble finding wives. Their predicament is due to the persistence of traditional ideas such as the desirability of women “marrying up” (i.e. the view that women should marry men who are of higher social standing than them such as being better educated, being better paid, etc.) and the reluctance of men to marry women who have achieved higher levels of socioeconomic attainment than themselves.”

  4. Desiree says:

    Switzerland has the same problem. In fact, it’s even more pronounced here (I’m living in Zurich atm).
    To be honest, I’d rather own an apartment and not have much spare cash on hand than the other way around. At least if times get tough, I have a warm and safe place to live in.

    Also, Singaporeans don’t understand how rich they truly are till they’ve seen the average lifestyle in other countries. People here go to the cinema once or twice a year. They cook at home almost all the time and eat out only on very special occasions. Roadside snacks are a luxury.
    Of all the people I know, only about 5% have even travelled beyond Europe. Their holiday weekends are spent going for hikes and walks in nature. And it’s next to impossible to find anyone to go shopping here, because they have no shopping malls, and there is no shopping culture. You really need something, go get it, otherwise, don’t waste your money.
    If Singaporeans would save all the money they spend on dining, entertainment and shopping, they would notice that they are indeed rich.

    And just to point out, though Singapore is at the bottom of the list, virtually every country above it has a much higher living cost, especially when you compare city to city.
    As you said, Singapore has no countryside, thus our average living costs may appear relatively high, though that is absolutely not the case. A simple cup of coffee costs CHF5= SGD6.60 approximately in Zurich. And there was a place that sells coffee at under CHF4 a cup (SGD5.30approx)… It made it on the news.

    • admin says:

      Hi Desiree,

      Thanks for the legs up here.

      Am wondering why you have settled in Zurich which is an extremely high-cost living city.

      Anyway I am sure that your wages should have make up for it.

      I do agree that after living in other countries for a while, Singapore does appear to be quite affordable comparatively. You can still find $3 lunch at kopitiam and my favourite $1 kopi O.

      Do pen me any article on your lifestyle in Zurich if you may. Thanks again for all your comment.

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