Hong Kong Standard of Living Far Better Than Resource Rich India’s

We put before you two countries:

Both are Asian. One has little land, most of it eroded hillsides. Its population density, already the highest in the world, is exacerbated by heavy immigration. It has to import all its raw materials, water, and oil. It receives no foreign aid whatsoever and until recently was still a Western colony. It has an authoritarian government.

The other is also densely populated, but it has lots of arable land and natural resources. Free from colonial rule, it has also been the recipient of about US$55 billion in aid over the past 40 years. It is a functioning democracy and the World Bank’s pet project.

Which do you bet would be better off? It seems to be a no-brainer – the second one, of course.

But wait – the country without resources is Hong Kong, today routinely at the top of lists of the best Asian cities in which to live and do business; and the well-endowed one is India, after 60 years of independence still one of the poorest countries in the world.

“The standard of living in Hong Kong had multiplied more than tenfold in forty years, while the standard of living in Calcutta has improved hardly at all,” says John Templeton.

After nearly half a century of centrally planned economic development, India’s annual per capita income remains somewhere between US$500 and US$3,400 a year, depending on the type of calculation you use and whom you are talking to.

A per capita income of around US$750 puts India – the fourth largest economy in the world – in the company of sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has a per capita income of over US$20,000 a year, on par with first world countries.

What on earth is wrong here?

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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3 Comments on "Hong Kong Standard of Living Far Better Than Resource Rich India’s"

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Mukul Dhankhar

One key difference is size. Its much much easier to lift the standard of living of a single city( especially under authoritarian rule) than for a big country housing a fifth of world population and where farthest distance between two points is over 3000Kms! I’m not saying Indians did everything they could to help raise their standard, but even if they tried to act in the best way possible to lift poverty, it’d still take a long time before things are realized.


I am amazing to know that in the eyes of foreigners HK is under authoriarian rule. Although our Chief Executive is not elected by universal franchise, our legislative counselors are elected by citizens. The CE can in no way rule in authoriarian. Western prejudice on Eastern world is horrible.



also helps to be sitting next to the largest growth in trading by any nation in history over last 30 years or so …

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