In the latest annual wealth report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI), it is said that personal wealth per adult grew strongly in Singapore up to 2012. However, since then it has risen only slowly in domestic currency units, and declined a little in terms of USD.
Despite this drop, CSRI states that average wealth of Singaporeans remains at a high level – USD 276,900 (SGD 394,647) per adult in mid-2016, compared to USD 112,800 ( SGD 160,766) in 2000.
The rise was mostly caused by high savings, asset price increases, and a favorable rising exchange rate from 2005 to 2012. Singapore is now tenth in the world in terms of household wealth per adult, giving it the highest rank in Asia.
Significantly, it is now well ahead of Hong Kong, which was ranked tenth in the world in 2000, just above Singapore. Wealth per adult in Hong Kong grew at an average annual rate of only 3.0% between 2000 and 2016, versus 5.8% for Singapore. This conformed with higher GDP per capita growth in Singapore over the same period.
Financial assets make up 54% of gross household wealth in Singapore, a ratio similar to that of Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The average debt of USD 54,800 (SGD 78,102) is moderate for a high-wealth country, equaling just 17% of total assets.
Singapore publishes household sector balance sheet data, which means that wealth information is more reliable than for most of its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
Wealth distribution in Singapore is said to be only moderately unequal. 18% of its people have wealth below USD 10,000 (SGD 14,252), compared with 73% globally. The number with wealth above USD 100,000 (SGD 142,523) is six times the world average.
Reflecting its very high average wealth, 5% of its adults, or 222,000 individuals, are in the top 1% of global wealth-holders, a very high number given that it has just 0.1% of the world’s adult population.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier spoken about the distribution of wealth during an interview with the Singapore media to wrap up the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting held in Peru on Monday (21 November).
In the interview, Mr Lee said Singapore’s emphasis is on giving people the skills to help them in the new economy and give those who are not doing well an extra leg-up, saying, “If you’re in Singapore, not everybody is equally well off, but even if you’re not well off, you’re not badly off.”