Both were, one or two generations back, substantially poorer than the UK. Abjectly poor in fact. They are now both richer than the UK – substantially so. GDP per capita in 2017 was Singapore $57,700, Hong Kong $46,200, UK $39,700. Their growth rates are substantially higher too – the gap is growing, not shrinking.

In fact, the low redistribution rich countries are the only ones that are growing at even the global average – all of the high redistribution states have had growth rates below that global average for decades now. And what is it that will determine the living standards of the poor in 20 and 30 years time? It’s going to be how rich is the economy being lived in, not whether 10 or 20% is sliced off the rich to give to the poor.

6 thoughts on “Elsewhere”

  1. Hmmmm,

    Singapore does pretty much have a National Housing Service.

    And, as much as I love Hong Kong, third home etc, that GDP is all sucked up by property barons. If GDP per household there were $300,000, it would cost $290,000 to rent an average 30 square metre “apartment”. The property market there does not (to a certain, but overplayed extent, physically can not) react to demand. That numerical extra wealth hides the fact that the people there are by and large not as wealthy as those in the UK, for that reason.

  2. Singapore? Not really quite so much. When Ritchie insisted the place had low taxes because housing made the government a profit I talked to them to find out. It’s very much more like govt procurement of the land then sell to buyers.

    HK, sure. But most of that flows back to government as it owns near all he land. Land value taxation is pretty much how they fund the place….

  3. Singapore’s HDB allows people to get a home for life and a bit.

    You buy your HDB apartment on a 99 year lease, so you might be able to pass it on or sell it with 30-40 years to run but it goes back to the state in the end.

    Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek owns significant stakes in the city’s largest property companies, so could be said to make a profit from real estate.

    Here in HK, there are a variety of lease lengths, but most new leases are granted for 50 years. So the state gets its land back, the developer gets a fat profit and the owner needs to find some other mug to sell to.

    The SAR government claims it is empowered to grant leases which extend beyond 2047, but I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

  4. Progressives are largely horrified by the prospect of the poor getting rich. They might be ok with them reaching some level of adequate living standard, but then they want them held there and that requires strong government control. Of course, they muck this all up, but in their mind if the poor don’t get richer that’s a victory for Gaia.

  5. Dear Mr Worstall

    “Growth compounds and so over the years the effect of a percent or two on the growth rate becomes rather larger than that of redistributing 10 or 20% of GDP”

    Unfortunately that takes time, and slicing 10% or 20% off the rich to gift to the poor (less handling fee) buys votes today.

    Also, as noted by TD, what would happen if the poor became unpoor for the poor regressives who just love to care about the poor?


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