Singapore: Least emotional country in the world

Over the years, Singapore has emerged as one of the most prosperous places in the world, and has accordingly attracted many professionals looking to develop their careers to relocate there.
So prolific has development been in the country – it almost doubled the size of its economy in the space of a decade – that it has established itself as one of the major finance centres in the world, behind Hong Kong, New York City and London.
Significantly, it has had the ability to ride out various storms, including the slump in 1997, the Sars outbreak in 2003 and the recent global financial crisis. Buffered by robust pharmaceutical, electronics and banking industries, Singapore continues to thrive.
And so it is, that with soaring skyscrapers, a mishmash of Asian cultures, mouthwatering cuisine, premier restaurants and lavish shopping outlets, it is no surprise that for many expats – and indeed businesses – this is the place to be right now.
However, the south-east Asian city-state has its drawbacks, as a new survey by Gallop reveals. It has been found to be the “least emotional country in the world”, meaning that Singaporeans are highly unlikely to express how they feel.
As such, so the poll suggests, whether they are feeling upbeat, sad, angry, stressed or in pain, this demographic is highly unlikely to say so. Speaking to Bloomberg, Li Bona, an assistant manager at Changi International Airport, believes that this neutrality possibly stems from early on in life at school.
“When you are taught not to be different from other people, you are less willing to express yourself,” he adds. Singaporeans believe that being impartial to things is considered the best way to cope with everday stresses.
What is all the more remarkable about these findings is the fact that Singapore has one of the lowest unemployment rates and highest GDP per capita figures in the world.
However, as the economists Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton have postulated, though a higher income can boost a person’s emotional wellbeing, there is a cut off, which they have estimated to be $75,000 (approximately £46,815) a year. Any additional money beyond this has little impact on how a person feels, they have argued.
In terms of countries that scored well in terms of emotional expressiveness, the Philippines came number one, followed by El Salvador, Bahrain, Oman, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Canada, Guatemala and Bolivia.
“Behavioural indicators such as positive and negative emotions are a vital measure of a society’s wellbeing,” Gallop says, explaining the importance of reports like this.
“Leaders worldwide are starting to incorporate such behaviour-based indicators into the metrics they use to evaluate their countries because they realise that traditional economic indicators such as GDP and 40-hour workweeks alone do not, and cannot, quantify the human condition.”
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