Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Andy Mukherjee

Why Ordinary Singaporeans Are Spending Faster Than the Rich

The masses in the city-state dig more deeply for the essentials because they have to.

On Singapore’s housing estates, ordinary people are outpacing the rich in spending. 

On Singapore’s housing estates, ordinary people are outpacing the rich in spending. 

Photographer: Bloomberg

Singapore is Asia’s Monte Carlo, a playground of the wealthy. The city-state has two casinos, an annual Formula One race, and the third-highest concentration of ultra-rich individuals after Monaco and Geneva. It’s home not just to the “Crazy Rich Asians” caricatured in the eponymous movie but also, increasingly, Brazilian and British billionaires.

Even the affluent in recently turbulent Hong Kong are beginning to find the rival financial center a safer option for their money (if not yet their persons). So it’s all the more surprising that in the past five years, most of the spending impulse in Singapore has come from those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, while the condo-dwelling bankers and the landed elite have been relatively thrifty.