Photo of elderly security guard by Momofuku

Based off the latest employment statistics by the Ministry of Manpower, Singaporeans worked an average of 45.0 hours per week, or 2,340 hours in a year – breaking the world record. Compared with OECD nations, Singaporeans work 85 hours more than the longest-working-hour OECD nation Mexico.

Aside from having the longest working hours, Singaporeans are however one of the poorest earners with the average Singaporean purchasing power worse off than most cities like Kuala Lumpur. As Singapore has one of the highest income inequality in the world, purchasing power and wealth indicators are distorted. According to the IMF, the average Singapore purchasing power per capita is US$91,000 (S$120,684). However, according to the local household income statistics, 50% of the population have less than $9,331 per month (S$111,972 a year) and the bottom 10% are living off less than S$1,937 a month (S$23,244 a year, or one-sixth of the average purchasing power per capita).

There has been no accurate indicator of purchasing power in Singapore, but poverty is creeping up based off increased needs of healthcare subsidies and increased number of subsidies recipients.

The average Singaporean worker pays a 37% retirement fund tax, known as CPF, which the government made repeated promises to return notwithstanding an ever-increasing Minimum Sum deductions (raised from S$80,000 to S$181,000) and increasing Withdrawal Age (raised from 55 to 63).

Due to the extended working hours, Singapore’s birth rate is also one of the world’s lowest at 1.16. Singapore have also the highest percentage of working elderly, who despite reaching retirement age of 63 are unable to retire due to poor CPF interest return rate (at 2.5%-4% rate, or less than half of the average superannuation fund returns in Australia).

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