People in Singapore, by one measure, have more purchasing power than those in America and Europe. Singapore’s gross national income based on purchasing power parity in current international dollars in 2016 was $85,000, according to World Bank data, while that of the United States was $58,030, and of Switzerland was $63,660.
Incidentally, Switzerland topped the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2017-2018 while the United States came second and Singapore third. The Netherlands was fourth, Germany fifth, Hong Kong sixth, Sweden seventh, the United Kingdom eighth, Japan ninth and Finland 10th. Their per capita GNI based on purchasing power parity in current international dollars was: Hongkong $60,530, the Netherlands $50,320, Sweden $50,000, Germany $49,530, Finland $43,000, Japan $42,870 and the United Kingdom $42,100.
Singapore pays more than London, Tokyo or Hong Kong, showed a Deutsche Bank survey this year reported in Business Insider. Singaporeans had the ninth highest average monthly salary in the survey of 24 major cities around the world. The average monthly salary net of tax (after taxes are deducted) in Singapore was US$3,077 — less than in Oslo (US$3,154, 8th), Melbourne (US$3,344, 7th), Sydney (US$3,451, 6th), Chicago (US$3,622, 5th), New York (US$4,304, 4th), Boston (US$4,322, 3rd), San Francisco (US$4,817, 2nd) and Zurich (US$5,876, 1st), but more than in Tokyo (US$2,897, 12th), London (US$2,776, 13th) and Hong Kong (US$2,715, 15th).
Salaries depend on the state of the economy and workers’ qualifications. Singapore is not only the third most competitive economy in the world but also No 1 in higher education and training in the 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index. No wonder Singapore salaries are high.
But are Singapore workers paid more than equally qualified workers elsewhere? University graduates make up a smaller portion of the population in Singapore than in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2016, 29.1 per cent of Singapore residents aged 25 or more were university-educated, according to Statistics Singapore. In contrast, 44 per cent of those aged 25 or more in the United States and 42 per cent in the United Kingdom completed tertiary education. Yet, as we saw, a Deutsche Bank survey shows the average monthly salary, after taxes, is higher in Singapore than in London.
With prosperity has come ease of travel. Singaporeans now hold the world’s most powerful passport, according to the Passport Index. Singapore citizens can travel to 159 countries in the world either visa-free or by getting a visa on arrival. Germany is second with a passport score of 158, one less than Singapore.
Singapore is small, with only 3.4 million citizens. There are also 526,000 permanent residents and 1.6 million non-residents, making up a population of 5.6 million in 2017, according to Statistics Singapore. While foreigners come to work in Singapore for higher pay, the Singaporeans have benefited from living in a rich little city-state which takes care of its people, ensuring good health care, education and other facilities.
I was reminded of Singapore while reading the Economist cover story on people and places left behind by globalization. Singapore, on the contrary, has gained from globalization, attracting foreign investments, increasing trade and exports. As the country has benefited, so have the people.
The Economist stressed the importance of location in its article on globalization and its victims. Yes, Singaporeans have the advantage that Singapore is their homeland.