Regarding income levels in Singapore and Asia in general


Let me share two things – first the photo attached this message.

Secondly – an article on Yahoo

Quote: ‘Firstly, the pay is really good. For SQ, we can easily hit S$4,500 a month’

Now, one if the striking features of Singapore life for a person who moved here from US (excluding NY’s Fifth Ave) is a drastic difference in income levels. Gini coefficient for Singapore is way higher comparing to US. Translating into plain English – there are people who make awful amount of money and the rest, for them $4500/mo is ‘really good’.

If you read expat forums, especially opinions of those coming from US, you will get a conclusion – relocating from US to Singapore one should earn no less $180 000/year to afford same quality of life.

If you read further you’d see that 180K is not that high. A recent article showed that >50% of Western expats are earning $220K/year or more. In those forums you will see people with income $15K-20K/mo AND their rent is paid by the company.

Yet again, among locals $4500/mo is ‘really good’.

There should be no surprises that this situation generates anger and resentment among locals. Last week 4000 people protested against government plans for possible increase of population to 6.7 million in 2030. In online forums ‘white trash’, ‘foreign trash’, ‘white baboon’ is a common titles addressed towards foreigners.

Yes, obviously there is income discrepancy but there is something in Singapore society (and in Asia in general) needs to be fixed first than pointing fingers towards foreigners.

Let me share one more quote from the article: ‘Within two months, she had bought her first S$3,000 branded bag‘ (emphasis mine)

Now, I have a conviction that for an _average_ US consumer/household, even when you are 26 years old, would not spend 2/3 of their/her/his income on a FIRST (SIC!) handbag. I have above conviction because I have not seen $18 000 handbag in my whole 13.5 years of life in States. And here shops selling those are commonplace, one of them is right next to my office.

Second detail to add to the picture is that here in Singapore (and generally in Asia) older generation lives on allowance of their children. Situation is more paradoxical taking into consideration that for Singapore citizens and permanent residents have mandatory contribution of 1/3 of their income into retirement fund

While it was always the case in any poor society, this situation is common in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan too, in addition to Singapore which would be no way considered as poor countries. And the same time older generation is broke while in US and EU order generation is the the one who has highest amount of disposable money.

I think that explanation of this paradox is that consumerism manifested itself much uglier in Asian society than in States/EU. Again, spending 2/3 of the income on handbags in Singapore or 50% of income on designer dress for 6y old in Japan (as it was mentioned in Economist) is pretty normal and acceptable.

And at the end – something is really wrong with the society where one is considered to be a better person just because he or she has more money.

Well, there should be no surprises with the end result. Look at the mirror first before starting blaming others.


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