Brunei: the only ASEAN state with a falling living standard

The American GDP was worth $293.7 billion in 1950, it is $15,094 billion now. Similarly, the US GDP per capita was $9,573 in 1950, it is $48,386 now. The GDP and per capita of a country is (almost) always on the rise due to economic growth, the money value is getting bigger, but can this be translated into a proportionate rise in living standard?

You see, there was a time in the past when a bowl of noodle can be bought for $0.07 in Asia, such pricing is no longer possible now of course. And would you be surprised to know that someone earning $200/mth in 1920 could be considered richer than his counterpart earning $2,000/mth in 2011 due to the different purchasing power rates in these 2 different eras?

It is therefore, to accurately measure the real standard of living, we need to take inflation into account.

Today we will review the real living standard of the 10 ASEAN states. To do so, we compiled the real GDP per capita based on the constant year 2000 US Dollar purchasing power rate (PPR), which also take into account the inflation of each respective nations throughout the decades. Data is provided by the World Bank, with exception of Myanmar, whose data is from the IMF. Charts are created by the New York-based Trading Economics website, which provides economic data for 196 countries and territories.

1. Singapore
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The 1966 Singaporean nominal GDP per capita was $566 (approximately $4,000 when adjusted to year 2000 USD PPR) The city-state went through rapid economic expansion and mass industrialization upon independence, and since enjoyed a steady rise in living standard. In 2010, the nominal GDP per capita was $43,900 (around $32,500 when adjusted to year 2000 USD PPR, which took into account of inflation) We can therefore say that the Singaporeans today are 8.1 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

2. Indonesia
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The 1966 Indonesian (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was around $200. The largest and most populous nation in Southeast Asia, Indonesia witnessed a steady improvement in living standard until a brief interruption in the Asian financial crisis 1997-98. The country soon resumed its rapid economic growth as multinationals identified Indonesia as the third low-cost production base in Asia (after China and India) In 2010, the nominal GDP per capita was $2,980 (around $1,170 when adjusted to year 2000 USD PPR, which took into account of inflation) We can therefore say that the Indonesians today are 5.9 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

3. Thailand
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The 1966 Thais (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was around $490. In mid-1980s, the Thai government opened up the country’s economy to international trade, leading to rapid economic growth and industrial expansion, but crumbled under the 1997-98 crisis. It wasn’t until 2001 that Thailand regained momentum over the baht and economy, and resumed growth. In 2010, the nominal GDP per capita was $4,990 (around $2,730 when adjusted to year 2000 USD PPR, which took into account of inflation) We can therefore say that the Thais today are 5.6 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

4. Malaysia
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The 1966 Malaysian (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was around $1,000. Mass industrialization took place in 1980s-90s which catapulted the living standard of Malaysia to that of mid-income level. The economy, like many other Southeast Asian states, was interrupted in 1997-98, but resumed growth later as the nation’s industries matured into a more high-tech platform. In 2010, the nominal GDP per capita was $8,420 (around $5,200 when adjusted to year 2000 USD PPR, which took into account of inflation) We can therefore say that the Malaysians today are 5.2 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

5. Cambodia
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The 1966 Cambodian (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was around $160. The nation had always been considered the slowpoke of ASEAN economy due to instability, civil violence and political infighting, but this changed in 1999 when peace was restored, leading to rapid economic progress in the last decade. In 2010, the nominal GDP per capita was $753 (around $800 when adjusted to year 2000 USD PPR, which took into account of inflation) We can therefore say that the Cambodians today are 5 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

6. Vietnam
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Vietnam was not a united country until 1975, after the devastating Vietnam War. Reliable data could only be obtained in 1984, which put the Vietnamese (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita at around $200. Economy took off only after the 1986 reform, that shifted Vietnam from a highly-centralized planned economy to a socialist-oriented market economy. In 2010, the (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was approximately $730. We can therefore say that the Vietnamese today are 3.7 times richer than their peers 25 years ago. The nominal GDP per capita of Vietnam was estimated at $85 in 1975 and $1,374 in 2011, unadjusted for inflation.

7. Laos
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In 1975, communist government took power in Laos and closed down the economy, only to begin decentralizing control and encouraged private enterprise in 1986. Reliable data could only be obtained in 1984, which put the Lao (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita at around $210. The Lao government opened up the country to the world only by 1990s, and witnessed a steady increase in living standard since. In 2010, the (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was approximately $560. We can therefore say that the Lao today are 2.7 times richer than their peers 25 years ago. The nominal GDP per capita of Laos was estimated at $77 in 1966 and $1,203 in 2011, unadjusted for inflation.

8. Myanmar
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In 1962, military government seized power in Myanmar and mismanaged the economy, transforming the once prosperous economy into Southeast Asia’s poorest. Reliable data could only be obtained in 1980, which put the Burmese (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita at around $180. The 1989 imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi led to international sanction, which pretty much collapsed the economy. Since 2000s, huge investments from China has been propping up the economy. The country recently freed Aung San Suu Kyi, liberalized and reformed its economic structure, and again opened up to the world in 2011, leading to a more optimistic future growth. In 2010, the (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was approximately $480, while still below the 1989 height, we can say that the Burmese today are 2.7 times richer than their peers 30 years ago. There is insufficient data concerning the nominal GDP per capita of Myanmar in the 1960s.

9. Philippines
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The 1966 Filipino (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was around $700. Due to mismanagement and rampant corruption, the country suffered an economic collapse in the 1980s, which it would recover only by 2000 onwards. Since then, the Philippines has seen a sharp rise in living standard with foreign investments and trade blossoming, and trade flourished. In 2010, the nominal GDP per capita was $2,120 (around $1,380 when adjusted to year 2000 USD PPR, which took into account of inflation) We can therefore say that the Filipinos today are 2 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

10. Brunei
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Brunei was the last ASEAN state to go independence, in 1984. Reliable data could only be obtained in 1974, which put the Bruneian (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita at around $23,000. Due to oil boom, Brunei had been the richest state in Southeast Asia since the 1960s until the Singaporean surpassed in early 2000s. The 1970s energy crisis and oil price shock made Brunei’s per capita more than 5 times richer than Singapore, and was permanently being associated with the word ‘rich’ since then. Failure to diversify economy and little developmental progress however, has seen the Bruneian GDP per capita fallen steadily from its 1970s peak, with the decline persisting even today. In 2009, the (year 2000 USD PPR) GDP per capita was approximately $17,000. We can therefore say that the Bruneians today are 26% poorer than their peers 35 years ago. The nominal GDP per capita of Brunei was estimated at $1,275 (2.3 times Singapore’s) in 1966 and $36,583 in 2011, unadjusted for inflation.

The Bruneian chart painted a completely different pattern than its ASEAN peers. While other ASEAN states reveal an upward trajectory movement, Brunei, on the other hand, shows a downward-spiral decline.

Other Asian states

1. China
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In what was defined as the greatest industrial expansion in histories of mankind, China’s real GDP per capita rose from $120 in 1966 to $2,410 in 2010, making the average Chinese today 20 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

2. India
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Another fast-growing economy in Asia, the living standard performance in India, however, is unimpressive if compared to China. Once richer than China, at a GDP per capita (year 2000 USD PPR) of $200 in 1966, India trailed badly behind China with only $830 in 2010. Nevertheless, the average Indians today are 4.2 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

3. Japan
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After few decades of strong economic growth, the Japanese economy crashed in 1990s, sending the country into a still ongoing 2-decade stagnation. Living standard however, maintained, as Japan suffered from deflation (the opposite of inflation) In 1966, the real GDP per capita (year 2000 USD PPR) was $13,000 and $39,800 by 2010. We can therefore say that the average Japanese today are 3.1 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

4. South Korea
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Massive industrialization and rapid economic expansion had solidly boosted the living standard of South Korea in the past 5 decades. In 1966, the real GDP per capita (year 2000 USD PPR) of South Korea was $1,800. By 2010 it had grown to $16,400 making the average Koreans today 9.1 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

5. Taiwan
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As Taiwan emerged as a global IT manufacturing hub, its living standard likewise, improved. In 1980, the real GDP per capita (year 2000 USD PPR) of Taiwan was $2,400. By 2010 it has grown to $17,800 making the average Taiwanese today 7.4 times richer than their peers 30 years ago.

6. Hong Kong
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Hong Kong has replaced Tokyo as Asia’s most important financial center, and real estate has boomed above pre-1997 level. Unsurprisingly this mean a steady rise in living standard. Being Singapore’s closest rival, Hong Kong has been lagging behind the lion city since 1990. GDP per capita (year 2000 USD PPR) was $5000, this has risen to $35,300 in 2010, making HongKongers 7.1 times richer than their peers 45 years ago.

Source:

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator

http://dsbb.imf.org/pages/sdds/FISSpecs.aspx

aiyoo…if Brunei living standard sliding ,Miri’s economy surely affected.

It depends, a fall in living standard means people will be more price-sensitive. If businesses in Miri price it ‘correctly’, they will see a boom. The cost of going to Miri for Bruneians is roughly B$30 ($15 toll + $15 petrol) on a same day trip, and if they can save more than that in shopping (as compared to buying in Brunei), why not?

nvm…its brunei… not msia…its mirian forum also.hehehe…try posting this in brunei forum bro.

When islamic laws takes Brunei’s foundation and pamper bumis as well as restricting foreign investment. Nothing unusual for the degradation. Foreign professionals have to look somewhere else as their priority is the yellowest (islam with yellow k/p) rather than profession.

With limited of income source they are sucking their own Sultan and land dry. With good amount of privileges, working in the government is their only aim after graduating, and even those under graduate. Yet their way of working attitude is like a big empty shell.