Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Singapore's propaganda employs clever statisticians

I just read that the median monthly income for full-timers in Singapore rose over the year by 7.7 per cent to S$2,330 in June 2007. Well, that's very little and I am always surprised how people in Singapore can pay all their bills with so little money. Especially with the costs of housing skyrocketing. No wonder that the majority of my Singapore friends still live with their parent(s), even at a ripe age.
On the other hand, Singapore propaganda employs very clever statisticians who report the median income. In countries which have lots of workers with very low incomes (such as Singapore), and smaller groups with middle and higher incomes, the average income is much higher than the median income. For example suppose Singapore has a million people making S$ 1,000, seven hundred thousand who make S$ 4,000 and two hundred thousand who make S$ 30,000. In this example the median income is only S$ 1,000, but the average income is a whopping S$ 5,158. So by presenting the median income (most people won't know what "median" means and they will wrongly translate as "average"), the propaganda machine gives a feel-good message to the lower income employees: "See, your salary is not so bad. You are earning close to average". Whereas if they published the average income a lot of people would be very unhappy with the peanuts that they are paid.

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