12 interesting trends about Singapore household income and spending

HDB flats in Bugis on July 16, 2013. How has the Singapore household changed over the last five years? Here are 12 interesting findings from the Household Expenditure Survey by the Department of Statistics. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
HDB flats in Bugis on July 16, 2013. How has the Singapore household changed over the last five years? Here are 12 interesting findings from the Household Expenditure Survey by the Department of Statistics. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - How has the Singapore household changed over the last five years? Here are 12 interesting findings from the Household Expenditure Survey 2012-2013. The survey is conducted by the Department of Statistics every five years.

1. We are earning more as a family

The average monthly household income was $10,503, up from $8,105 five years before.

East Coast Parkway, with high rise private condominiums on the Singapore East Coast. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN


2. Our income is growing faster than prices in general

Household incomes rose an average of 5.3 per cent a year in dollar terms, keeping ahead of inflation, which averaged 3.1 per cent a year.

Office workers at the CBD area, crossing the road at Market Street. -- ST PHOTO: RUDY WONG


3. We are earning more than we are spending

Our income is growing faster than our spending. Average household spending rose only 4.4 per cent, to $4,724 a month.


4. Which group's income is growing the fastest?

Households at the bottom saw their incomes rising the most. The average income of the bottom fifth rose 6.6 per cent a year, to hit $2,022. Those in the top fifth had income growth of just 4.7 per cent a year.

Customers browsing and buying vegetables at Chia's Vegetables Supplies at Tekka Centre's wet market on 21 June 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


5. Where is our income coming from?

We are getting more money from our jobs, but also from other sources.

For households at the bottom, non-work income was mainly from government transfers such as the Workfare Income Supplement and other sources such as contributions from relatives.

For those at the top, their non-work gains came from rental and investments.


6. We are spending more

For all income groups, expenditure rose more in the last five years than in the five years before.

Shoppers walking outside of Ngee Ann City along Orchard Road on 20 December 2012. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


7. ...And it's not just because of higher prices

It's also because we're spending more on higher quality goods and services, such as dining out in restaurants. 34.9 per cent of our food expenditure is spent in restaurants, cafes and pubs, up from 26.8 per cent in the five years before.

Customers of Molly Malone’s Irish Pub at a table set up on a pedestrianised Circular Road. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM


8. ...But we still love our kopi-o and chicken rice

Of all the money we spend on food, most is still spent in hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops - 57.7 per cent.


9. What are we spending most on?

The average household spends $1,188 a month on food, $811 on transport, $154 on package tours and holidays, $138 on other recreational and cultural pursuits, and $156 on clothes and footwear.

Adam Road Food Centre is one of the favourite hawker centres in Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHEN


10. Almost everyone has a mobile phone

Ninety-seven per cent of households own a mobile phone, compared to 94.5 per cent five years ago and 88.8 per cent 10 years ago. This rise is across the board - higher proportion of lower income households, as well as those in one- and two-room HDB flats, are now owners of mobile phones.

Mobile phone users at Jurong East MRT station on the evening of 15 March 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG


11. Who still uses residential phone lines?

Residential telephone lines are going out of fashion. In 2012 to 2013, 82.2 per cent of households had residential telephone lines, down from 88.3 per cent five years ago and 93.1 per cent 10 years ago.

-- ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN


12. Laptops and tablets are in, desktops are out

More people own computers but they prefer laptops and tablets to desktops. Forty per cent of households have only laptops or tablets compared to 16 per cent five years ago. Ownership of desktops meanwhile has dropped from 61 per cent to 43 per cent.