Singaporeans Have 6 Friends On Average

In a recent study conducted by National University of Singapore about social diversity, it was suggested that Singaporeans don’t have that many friends.

Before we talk about how friendless locals are, the survey of 3,000 Singaporeans was indicative of a large social class divide — due to people from similar educational and housing backgrounds tending not to mix with people outside their own groups.

To prove this, the study first took into account the number of friends Singaporeans have.

This led to the lonely discovery that on average, a Singaporean only has 6 friends.


5.8 friends for every Singaporean

In order to find out how people were mixing in their social groups, they first worked out the average number of friends each person had.

The divide was then measured by the kind of friends people have, based on two factors — housing and education. Findings showed that an average Singaporean has 5.8 friends in their group.

This number is incredibly low when compared to the number of close friends Americans have, standing at 8.6 on average.

How did education and housing affect social diversity?

According to Straits Times, the study showed that an average resident in public housing knows a meagre 0.8 people in private housing.

Someone who lives in public housing thus knows 0 to 1 person living in private housing.

As for education as a factor for social diversity, the average person from a non-elite school has ties to 0.4 people from elite school.

This is similar to the statistics for housing, where someone that went to a non-elite school only knows 0 to 1 person from an elite school.

Based on this info, it was concluded that people with the same kind of education and housing tend to stick to friends with similar lifestyles.

How does the study define friends?

Everyone was so focused on the social divide aspect of the study that nobody  paid attention to how loosely the study defines the term “friends”.

Basically, participants were asked questions about their friends, like who they would borrow money from, and who they confided in.


From there, they had to provide more information on the people they named, based on a standard list of questions.

Strangely, the study doesn’t share what the standard list of questions are.

They did acknowledge however, that people had friends for different activities or things, depending on individual needs.


According to the study, immediate family members are often relied on for financial help. On the other hand, neighbours are typically called on for help with housing matters.

So does this mean that your 5.8 friend average only refers to the people you’d ask for help with on more sensitive matters?

When we consider this carefully, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

This is because even if we’re not inclined to ask a person for a favour, it doesn’t mean we don’t trust them or consider them a friend.

Do we really have so few friends on average?

Another reason why the study came up with such a low average of friends, could be the friendship paradox.

Okay, so consider two people in a friendship. Person A has 100 friends, while Person B has 10.

The paradox occurs because B will include A in their list of friends when asked.

But when A is asked, they probably won’t even mention B because they have so many other friends.

So on average, your friends probably have more friends than you.


Of course, if you’re Person B in this analogy, you don’t have to feel ashamed.

At least you have more friends than the average Singaporean who has a measly 5.8.

How to solve a class divide

The brains behind this study, researcher Vincent Chua was quoted as saying, “We have shifted from a society based on race to one based also on class”.

Since the survey did not encompass a vast array of other parameters, like income disparity and family background, his assertion likely remains untrue.

Coupled with the fact that more than half of those surveyed were above the age of 39, this probably doesn’t apply to millennials today.

Preventing a class divide among millennials is pretty easy.

We just need to break out the free booze and post an open jio for ZoukOut next year.

Of course, this is purely for scientific reasons — increasing diversity in our communities by promoting mixed social interaction.

And bringing our friend count up to 7.

Featured image from Facebook and National University of Singapore.