Emotional Deficit Strikes Singapore

Fun City it ain't, survey claims

Singapore, November 2012, photo (c) John Tranter
Singapore, November 2012, photo (c) John Tranter

More about Singapore in South-east Asia, where I recently enjoyed the 2012 Singapore Writers Festival:

Thanks to Singapore’s strength in finance, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and other industries, its economy almost doubled in 10 years, making the country of 5.3 million people one of the world’s wealthiest, with per-capita gross domestic product of $33,530.

Fun City it ain’t. U.S. pollster Gallup conducts surveys in more than 140 countries to compare how people feel about their lives. Singapore ranks as the most emotionless society in the world, beating out Georgia, Lithuania, and Russia. Singaporeans are unlikely to report feelings of anger, physical pain, or other negative emotions. They’re not laughing a lot, either. “If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” says Jon Clifton, a Gallup partner in Washington. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.” [from Bloomberg Businessweek]

The Australian newspaper went further:

Singapore's citizens have reacted to a survey depicting them as the world's least emotional people, many saying the competitive culture leaves them no room for feelings.

The Philippines came out as the most emotional society, with Latin American countries dominating the top of the list.

Singapore is one of the world's wealthiest and most stable societies, but at a cost.

"Where got time to laugh? Wake up, must fight for place on trains, lunch time, must fight for place to sit down and eat, go home, must fight for place on trains," one resident posted on Facebook. One commented on Yahoo! Singapore: "It's so stressful to be living in Singapore. Our mind is all about $$$ - how to survive, how to raise family, tax, etc. Nothing is free here."

Another said: "We have everything, and yet we have nothing. No one in this country actually lives life to the fullest; we merely exist. To our government, we are nothing more than a statistic."

Gallup said it surveyed about 1000 respondents in each country annually between 2009 and 2011, on whether they had the previous day experienced any of a range of emotions. Only 36 percent of Singaporeans said they felt any of them.