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Taiwan beats Japan, South Korea in per capita spending

WASHINGTON -- Spending per capita and average individual consumption was higher in Taiwan than in Japan and South Korea in 2011 once differences in price levels were accounted for, a World Bank study has found.

According to the World Bank's 2011 International Comparison Program released on Tuesday, Taiwan boasts expenditure per capita (based on GDP data) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) of US$39,059, higher than Japan's US$34,262, and South Korea's US$29,035.

Expenditure per capita based on GDP measures the average income of a nation, while purchasing power parity is the exchange rate of different currencies according to the prices of the same goods in different currencies.

Among the four Asian Tigers, Singapore had PPP-adjusted per capita expenditure of US$72,296 and a price level index of 91.4, followed by Hong Kong at US$50,129 and a price level index of 90.5.

Taiwan came in third thanks to its relatively low price level, shown by its low price level index of 66.1, although its per capita expenditure based on regular exchange rates was only US$20,030.

South Korea had the lowest spending of the four in PPP terms because of its high price level index of 99.4.

The PPP-adjusted expenditure per capita in Japan, which had a price level index of 173.6, was US$34,262, also lower than Taiwan's.

The measure based on GDP includes both the goods and services consumed by resident households and collective expenditures made by the government, such as for defense, health care or education.

In another metric measuring only actual individual consumption, Taiwanese spent slightly more per capita (US$25,129) when adjusted for pricing parity than did Japanese (US$24,447) and Singaporeans (US$24,725).

South Korean consumers spent far less per capita adjusted for PPP (US$17,481), but people in Hong Kong spent more on average (US$32,690).

The World Bank said the measure was a better indicator of material well-being than per capita expenditure based on GDP.

The World Bank's report was based on 2011 figures, with the price level index based on the world equal to 100.

Those countries with indexes above 100 have higher price levels, and those under 100 have lower price levels.

In the World Bank's last International Comparison Program, which was released in 2008 based on the statistics of 2005, Taiwan recorded a PPP-adjusted expenditure per capita of US$26,069.

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