Just How Crazy Rich are Asians?

We all know Singapore is rich but how does it compare to the United States?
IMAGE Pixabay

The highly anticipated film Crazy Rich Asians comes out in cinemas worldwide this week. Mainly set in the bustling city-state of Singapore, the movie is an adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel of the same title, which shows the dynamics of money, class and power in what is perhaps the world’s fastest growing region—one that is not represented frequently in the prevalent Western media.

With its striking title, one cannot help but wonder: How crazy rich are the real Asians as portrayed in the movie? How realistic was the depiction of the lavish lifestyles shown in the film? Does Singapore, the setting of the story, really have that much wealth. 

To shed light on these questions, Entrepreneur Philippines prepared this infographic that tracks Singapore’s gross domestic product per capita, an indicative measure of a country’s standard of living, since the 1960s. We then compared it to the United States, the largest economy in the world, to put the numbers into better perspective.


In 1960, Singapore’s GDP per capita stood at $427.9, seven times smaller than the US’ $3,007.1. However, more than 50 years later, this gap shrunk to just three percent, with Singapore’s $57,714.3 GDP per capita catching up to the US’ $59,531.7. There were even years when Singapore’s GDP per capita was higher than America’s. 

Singapore’s steady rise as one of the world’s global financial centers helped its economy grow and eventually match the US’. The sharp spike in the Lion City’s economy happened in mid-1980s, and apart from the brief slump in 1997 to the early 2000s, Singapore has been able to sustain its economic expansion since then. It even surpassed the US’ GDP per capita from 2011 to 2014.

In contrast to Singapore, the Philippine economy largely stagnated in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of flawed economic policies and political uncertainties brought about by dictatorial rule. Not surprisingly, what was merely a gap in GDP per capita of 1.7 times in 1960 grew to 19 times by 2017. The good news is that Philippine economic growth began to grow much faster compared to the historical average since the mid-2000s.

This story originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.phMinor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Pauline Macaraeg for Entrepreneur.com.ph
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