Maybe it’s rosy after all


Responding to the letter writer who saw a not-so-bright future for the working class in Singapore, another writer to the Straits Times Forum pointed out a flaw in the former’s argument.

The latter writer said, even though Singapore’s GDP is considered low at US$129m, when viewed in another way, it’s actually a respectable US$29,320 on a per-capita basis.

That is, if we take GDP divided by the population, we get a GDP-per-person value, or how much GDP is there for each resident in Singapore. In fact, at US$29,320, it is “one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world.”

She also cited a report by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, called 2007 Quality of Living Survey which ranked Singapore rather favourably. I took a look at that report and found some interesting tidbits:

  • Singapore is actually the best among what I call “non-western” countries, i.e. countries with Asians forming the majority population. (So this excludes Australia and New Zealand in Asia Pacific countries.)
  • But if we include “western” cities, we are ranked 8th in Asia Pacific, behind Auckland, Sydney, Wellington, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane.
  • The only other “non-western” country featured in the top 50 is Japan, which has 4 cities in the top 50 – Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe and Osaka – all ranked below Singapore.

The letter writer also mentioned a report by ECA International, which compared real salary increases among various countries. I found an article in ECA International’s website talking about that report, but it has this to say:

“Real salary increases – a worker’s actual annual salary increase after inflation is taken into account – in Singapore this year are expected to be approximately 2.8%, on average. This is below the regional average, but still nearly double the real wage increases expected in Hong Kong…”

Also, in terms of real wage increases, we are ranked (by ECA International) below countries like India, Indonesia, China, Thailand and even Malaysia. Could it be that our salaries are too high to begin with? Or is it that the other countries are catching up quickly?


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