This article was originally published on 7 October 2020 and updated to reflect the latest information.
Singapore is typically seen as a rich country, compared to our regional peers and even against other developed nations globally. The main statistics cited in these comparison studies tend to be GDP per capita – defined as the gross domestic output per person.
In 2019, the Department of Statistics Singapore reported our GDP per capita to be $82,503. This is higher than our regional counterparts, as well as other developed countries globally (but not all).
Broadly speaking, this translates into a monthly output of nearly $6,875 per month per person in Singapore. This includes those too old or young to work or those not working, so the actual output per working person may be higher.
However, we cannot expect to earn this amount.
What Is The Average Monthly Household Income In Singapore In 2020?
According to the Key Household Income Trends, 2020 report by the Department of Statistics Singapore, our average monthly household income from work is $12,235. While this may seem high, we should not get our hopes up or feel down if we aren’t achieving this figure yet.
Firstly, this is because it is the average figure and big earners will skew this number. The median household income in 2020 was $9,189. By its definition, 50% of Singapore households would be earning less than the median, while another 50% would be earning more than the median.
Secondly, the average monthly household income differs quite greatly between families who live in HDB flats and those who live in private properties.
|Average Monthly Household Income by Type of Dwelling in 2020($)|
|1- & 2-Room HDB Flat||$2,997|
|3-Room HDB Flat||$6,442|
|4-Room HDB Flat||$9,414|
|5-Room & Executive HDB Flat||$12,723|
|Condominiums and Other Apartments||$20,732|
With more than 80% of people in Singapore living in HDB flats, the household income for HDB flats may be most relevant for many of us. Naturally, those who live in bigger HDB flats also tend to earn a larger household income.
Of course, average household income also corresponds to the number of persons living in our home. The more working household members, the greater our household income. If we have five household members (for example, father, mother, and three adult children) in a condominium, all working and earning $4,000 each, we would have a household income of over $20,000 (with CPF contributions). However, this doesn’t mean we are richer or better off than a single person who bought their own 4-room flat and earns $9,000 a month.
What we should pay closer attention to is the average monthly household income per household member.
How Do You Stand Against Other Households In Singapore?
To understand where we stand is to look at which quintile we fall into.
|Average Monthly Household Income per Household Member|
|Quintiles||Average Monthly Household Income|
|1st – 10th||$560|
|11th – 20th||$1,141|
|21st – 30th||$1,609|
|31st – 40th||$2,085|
|41st – 50th||$2,603|
|51st – 60th||$3,201|
|61st – 70th||$3,940|
|71st – 80th||$4,972|
|81st – 90th||$6,712|
|91st – 100th||$13,400|
The lowest 10% of households saw household members earning just $560 per month.
The top 10% of households saw their income per household member at $13,400 per month.
How Much Did Our Average Monthly Household Income Grow?
In the last report in 2019, the average household income was $12,386. This means the average household income fell 1.2% in 2020.
However, looking at the table, while most households saw a fall in their income, the smallest households actually saw an increase in their income.
|Average Monthly Household Income From Work by Type of Dwelling ($)|
|2019||2020||Change (per annum)|
|1- & 2-Room HDB Flat||$2,886||$2,997||3.8%|
|3-Room HDB Flat||$6,586||$6,442||-2.2%|
|4-Room HDB Flat||$9,543||$9,414||-1.4%|
|5-Room & Executive HDB Flat||$12,706||$12,723||–|
|Condominiums and Other Apartments||$21,023||$20,732||-1.4%|
How Come Our Salaries From Work May Not Match Up?
Firstly, if we simply look at the headline $12,235 figure that the average households in Singapore earn, we may have an unrealistic point of view. For starters, we are neglecting a likely significant source of income for wealthier households – income not from work but from business and investments.
We also need to be mindful of the number of working persons in our households. If we have more people working, we may look like we’re better off than the average even when it may not be the case. Similarly, if we have only a single income earner, we may actually be better off than the average, without actually knowing it. This is also a function of choice (whether one spouse wants to be a stay-home parent) as well as circumstance.
Another measure that we can compare ourselves to is the median income reported by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Singapore’s median income in 2020 was $4,534.
For many of us, there will typically be two working adults (ourselves and our spouse) in our households. In fact, the average number of working household members in resident employed households in 2020 was 1.89 – which points to a married couple. The average household size among resident employed households in 2020 was 3.42 – or between 1 to 2 dependants (either children or elderly parents).
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