Pacific Money

Asia’s Sindex: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Pacific Money

Asia’s Sindex: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Not much sign of sloth in the region, but Asian countries have their indulgences.

The Asia-Pacific region may be the world’s emerging economic powerhouse, but how do its nations rate on less socially desirable factors? Based on Foreign Policy magazine’s “Sindex,” here is how the region stacks up when it comes to sins like gambling, sloth and vanity.

Alcohol: Australians may have a reputation for drinking, but South Koreans consume the most hard liquor at around 24 liters per capita annually. While the Aussies have rapidly become a nation of wine drinkers, the Cook Islands now drinks the most beer per capita at 182 liters each, compared to Australia’s 5.2 liters.

Debt: “Neither a borrower nor lender be” wrote William Shakespeare, and when it comes to the big borrowers no one tops the Japanese government. According to the International Monetary Fund, gross public debt is expected to top 240 percent of GDP in 2013 – one of the reasons why Tokyo plans to hike consumption tax. However, Chinese municipal borrowers appear to be following Japan’s lead, with financing vehicles used by Chinese local governments estimated to have accumulated $3.1 trillion worth of borrowings.

Gambling: The “one-armed bandits” of poker machines have helped Australians lose the most money gambling per capita at $1,288 per year, with over 80 percent of adult Australians engaging in some type of gambling. Somewhat surprisingly, Singapore is in second place at $1,174 perhaps due to its recently introduced casinos, with the city state expected to generate $7 billion in gross gambling revenue by 2014. Both nations are reportedly double their nearest competitors in gambling spending.

Gluttony: With more than three-quarters of its population extremely overweight, American Samoa takes the prize of the planet’s heaviest people. However, a recent report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization rated Mexico the world’s fattest with an adult obesity rate of 32.8 percent, ahead of the U.S. rate of 31.8 percent.

Luxuries: Luxury goods makers can be thankful for the Japanese, who spend $339 billion annually on recreation, more than anywhere except the United States. By contrast, the Chinese are reportedly the thriftiest individuals, saving more than half their official GDP.

Sex: China is seen as a “huge and growing” market for condoms, with sales tipped expanding to 14.6 billion by 2018 from 9.2 billion last year, according to Global Industry Analysts. Top Asian producers include India, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand, although the U.S. market is still the biggest globally.

Sloth: Not much sign of sloth in Asia, and particularly in South Korea, where workers average 2,092 working hours a year. Those seeking an easier life are advised to head to Europe, land of the siesta and long public holidays, with the Dutch working the fewest hours at 1,381 per year.

Vanity: China’s newfound wealth has helped it nose ahead of Japan in the vanity stakes, with 51,680 annual rhinoplasty procedures, or nearly 11 percent of the global total. However, the United States is the undisputed leader in plastic surgery, with its more than 3 million procedures a year accounting for over 20 percent of the total.

Based on the latest statistics, working in Europe and partying in Asia may be the best of both worlds, although Asia’s newly rich consumers are rapidly catching up with their Western counterparts in the sinful stakes.