Martin Lee @ Sg
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Average Wealth of Singaporeans

According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth report, the average wealth per adult here has grown from US$105,000 in 2000 to US$255,488 this year.

This puts Singaporeans the fourth richest country in the world behind Switzerland, Norway and Australia.

The skeptics among us will probably be asking. Sure or not?

Well, here are the numbers:

  1. Switzerland US$372,692
  2. Norway US$326,530
  3. Australia US$320,909
  4. Singapore US$255,488
  5. France US$255,156
  6. Sweden US$243,506
  7. US US$236,213
  8. Luxembourg US$234,972
  9. UK US$229,940
  10. Italy US$226,423

Before we bring out the champagne to celebrate, note that these numbers measure the average wealth per adult, which statistically might not be the best measure.

A better measure would be median, which is described as the numeric value separating the higher half of a sample or a population from the lower half.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Example 1

Say we have only 11 people in Lalaland with wealth of:

  1. $50,000
  2. $55,000
  3. $60,000
  4. $65,000
  5. $70,000
  6. $75,000
  7. $80,000
  8. $85,000
  9. $90,000
  10. $95,000
  11. $100,000

In this example, the wealth is quite evenly distributed. The median wealth of the population is the wealth of the sixth person, ie $75,000. The average also works out to be $75,000. In this case, both the median and average would offer a fair view of the wealth of most average people in Lalaland.

Example 2

Say we have 11 people with wealth of:

  1. $50,000
  2. $55,000
  3. $60,000
  4. $65,000
  5. $70,000
  6. $75,000
  7. $80,000
  8. $85,000
  9. $90,000
  10. $95,000
  11. $2,000,000

The numbers are similar to the first one, with the exception of the richest person. For the second example, the median is still $75,000 which is the wealth of the sixth person. However, the average is now $247,727, which does not fairly reflect the wealth of most average people in Lalaland. In fact, 10 out of 11 people in Lalaland would have wealth that is less than the average figure. In this case, only the median would offer a fair view of the wealth level of the average person in Lalaland.

For the record, Singapore’s median wealth per adult actually stands at just US$30,092. There is a huge difference from the average wealth which suggests that a lot of wealth is concentrated at the top echelons.

If we consider the fact that most Singaporeans would have a sizable amount of their savings in their CPF, the median disposal wealth per adult would be much lower. Actually, even the entire sum of US$30,092 will not be enough to buy a 3-room HDB apartment.

The ranking by median wealth goes like this:

CountryMedian wealth per adult (in US$)Mean wealth per adult (in US$)GDP per capita (in US$)
Norway157,239326,53088,590
Australia124,234320,90953,862
Italy115,182226,42335,231
Luxembourg111,631234,972107,599
Finland104,615151,57244,651
Japan102,946201,38741,366
Iceland95,026207,66638,835
Canada94,700225,89645,658
Belgium92,263211,01343,354
Ireland90,025151,19648,578
Austria86,946180,39247,087
United Kingdom78,765229,94035,721
Netherlands68,522148,85648,224
UAE68,468150,12149,995
Spain67,611101,79930,960
France66,521255,15642,414
New Zealand61,971170,73631,067
Germany59,077164,56140,679
Kuwait47,975101,96837,451
United States47,771236,21347,702
Cyprus45,18986,47828,379
Greece42,57699,41329,060
Switzerland41,547372,69269,839
Taiwan38,106119,15217,927
S. Korea37,38970,75120,265
Portugal33,38086,13321,185
Singapore30,092255,48840,336

From this list, Singapore happens to be the only country which has a median wealth that is less than its GDP.

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8 comments
lioninvestor says 8 years ago

With the USD weakening, both our median and average wealth (measured in USD) are increasing.

Reply
armor says 8 years ago

From this list, Singapore happens to be the only country which has a median wealth that is less than its GDP.
==================================

Swiss also

Reply
    lioninvestor says 8 years ago

    Oh yes, missed that. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Reply
lioninvestor says 8 years ago

I have updated the post with the median rankings….

Reply
Nuts says 8 years ago

Funny that both the average of US$255K and the median of US$30K were BOTH in the SAME REPORT, but most of the media chose to highlight the US$255K!

Creates more publicity and earns them more money from readership I guess.

Seriously for real-world accuracy and for actual situation on the ground, MSM and all our govt ministers should BAN the use of “average” and start highlighting the “median” instead.

Reply
    lioninvestor says 8 years ago

    I think the median rank was probably censored away. 😀

    Reply
Eileen says 8 years ago

Hi Martin,

IMHO it’s a fair gauge as other countries having the same way of measuring. The second part of the result only showing that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. This big gap was not seen 10-20 years back. Sigh!

Reply
DanielP says 8 years ago

Hi Lion, you have it right on the money.

Reply
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