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Household incomes fall in 2020 due to COVID-19 impact, but rose in past 5 years

SINGAPORE: Median household incomes fell last year as Singapore's economy shrank, but had increased over the last five years, according to a paper released by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) on Monday (Feb 8).

The median monthly household income from work fell by 2.5 per cent from S$9,425 in 2019 to S$9,189 in 2020, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. After adjusting for inflation, it was a 2.4 per cent drop.

However, from 2015, when the median monthly household income was S$8,666, there was a cumulative increase of 5.2 per cent or 1 per cent per annum in real terms, said DOS.

READ: Singapore economy shrinks a record 5.8% in a pandemic-hit 2020

To account for different household sizes, DOS also provided figures for the median monthly household income from work per household member.

This fell from S$2,925 in 2019 to S$2,886 in 2020, a decline of 1.3 per cent, or 1.2 per cent after adjusting for inflation - the first decline since 2008/2009, a result of the Global Financial Crisis. But from 2015 to 2020, the number grew by 14.6 per cent, or 2.8 per cent per annum in real terms.

This trend held true for households across income groups, it said. 

DOS said that households in the 1st to 60th percentile saw a S$37 to S$49 drop in their average household income per member, whereas households in the 61st to 100th percentile had their income fall between S$96 and S$337.

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After adjusting for inflation, households in the top 90 per cent income groups recorded real income declines of 1.4 to 3.2 per cent, while incomes for households in the bottom 10 per cent declined 6.1 per cent.

However, their incomes all grew in the five years from 2015 to 2020, with increases ranging from 0.6 to 2.9 per cent a year.


The income divide as measured by the Gini coefficient was the lowest in two decades, as government transfers closed the gap.

The Gini coefficient is equal to zero in the case of total income equality, and is one in the case of total inequality.

Singapore's Gini coefficient was 0.452 in 2020, unchanged from 2019 but fell to 0.375 after government transfers and taxes. The Gini coefficient was 0.398 in 2019 after transfers, a record low then.

"This can be attributed to the significant amount of government support provided during the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, especially for households staying in the smaller HDB flats," said DOS in a media release. 

Resident households received S$6,308 per household member on average from various Government schemes in 2020, which was higher than the S$4,684 received the year before. 

Those in HDB 1- & 2-room flats received S$13,670 per household member on average, close to double the transfers received by resident households in HDB 3-room flats.

The report noted that its analyses focused on resident households with at least one working person, which constituted 86.7 per cent of all resident households in 2020.

The full Key Household Income Trends 2020 report is available online at

Source: CNA/hm(ta)