Unusual question about wealth

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  1. #1

    Unusual question about wealth

    I didn't know whether to post this here or in the banking and finance forum - KIA please feel free to move it if necessary.

    This is an odd question, maybe if anyone is some sort of analyst they could have a stab at answering it for me.

    It is my understanding that approximately 800 million people in the world speak Mandarin (making it the world's most spoken language I think). I'm not sure if that figure is for "Mandarin as mother tongue" or for "people who can speak Mandarin". It is also my understanding that approximately 70 million people speak Cantonese (mainly Hong Kong, Guangdong, Macao, and many overseas Chinatowns around the world).

    My somewhat politically incorrect question is this: what would be the relative net wealths of the 800 million Mandarin speaker versus the 70 million Cantonese speakers? Presumably the average Cantonese speaker would have a much higher net wealth than the average Mandarin speaker (merely because of the place in the world they live in). Anybody have any idea or even any way to try to estimate?

    I do have a legitimate reason for asking this question.

    The below resources may help a bit, but not much. They are just about numbers of people who speak a certain language.

    http://www.krysstal.com/spoken.html
    http://www2.ignatius.edu/faculty/turner/languages.htm
    http://anthro.palomar.edu/language/language_1.htm

    Ok, time to go to bed. Gotta get up and go to the gym in the morning


  2. #2

    GDP = Wealth??

    Well, your question is interesting.

    Let's assume that GDP per capital is similar to what you called "wealth".

    The GDP per capital in Hong Kong is US$ 25K (6 Millions)
    The GDP per capital in Taiwan is US$ 15K

    The GDP per capital in Guangdong is US$ 3K (50 Millions)
    The GDP per capital in China Mainland is US$ 1.7K

    It is difficult to estimate the GDP of oversea cantonese (14 Millions), but let's say they aer similar to what Hong Kong people earn.

    So, the figure for all cantonese speakers is estimated as follows,
    (20 x $25K + 50 x $3K)/70 = about US $9.3K per capita.

    And I believe the GDP for Mandarin speakers (including oversea resident) should not exceed $2k per capita.


  3. #3

    Hmmm...

    Quote Originally Posted by bunnypanda:
    Well, your question is interesting.

    Let's assume that GDP per capital is similar to what you called "wealth".

    The GDP per capital in Hong Kong is US$ 25K (6 Millions)
    The GDP per capital in Taiwan is US$ 15K

    The GDP per capital in Guangdong is US$ 3K (50 Millions)
    The GDP per capital in China Mainland is US$ 1.7K

    It is difficult to estimate the GDP of oversea cantonese (14 Millions), but let's say they aer similar to what Hong Kong people earn.

    So, the figure for all cantonese speakers is estimated as follows,
    (20 x $25K + 50 x $3K)/70 = about US $9.3K per capita.

    And I believe the GDP for Mandarin speakers (including oversea resident) should not exceed $2k per capita.
    Of course, so obvious, I should have thought of this way to approach the problem. Ok, here are my comments on what you posted:

    English advice

    1. Actually it should be GDP per "capita" not per "capital". "Per capita" is an expression we use in English that is taken directly from Latin. It means exactly the same as "per head" or "per person".

    2. When you quote plural millions, for example "6 million" you don't use the plural word "millions" you still say "million". Yes I know it doesn't make sense but that's English for you. You don't say "3 hundreds or 7 thousands" you should say "3 hundred or 7 thousand". In the same way you don't say "6 millions" you say "6 million".

    Thoughts on the actual question

    I suspect the GDP per overseas Cantonese speaker might be slightly more than the GDP per HK Cantonese speaker, so let's round your GDP per Cantonese speaker to US$10k per year, so let's call it 5 times as much as the average GDP per Mandarin speaker.

    Since there are about 12 times as many Mandarin speakers as Cantonese speakers, it would seem the total GDP of Mandarin speakers per year is about 240% of the total GDP per year of Cantonese speakers.

    BUT...

    Although this is a pretty good way of approaching the problem, and is better thought out than what I got to, it is still not entirely what I was after. "Wealth" means net assets (that is total assets minus total liabilities). Add up the value of all Cantonese speakers' assets (property like houses and businesses, cars, investments like cash deposits, shares in businesses, etc) and take away all their liabilities (loans from banks, monies owed to anyone, expenses owed by not yet paid, etc) and you have wealth.

    This is different from GDP which you can (simplistically) think of as the total "income" of the people. Income is generally earnt in two ways - by selling your "labour" by having a job (some would say selling your soul!) or by getting a return on "income producing assets" for example rent on real estate property, dividends and/or capital gains on shares, profit on shares in private businesses owned, interest on money invested, etc).

    Generally, as a very rough guide, the rate of return on income producing assets around the world is about 10% per year, and on ALL assets around the world about 6% (since there are a lot of non-income producing assets, most of which are people's homes that they live in). So if ALL the GDP was earnt merely from all assets (i.e. noone had jobs), the "wealth" would be about the GDP / 6% = GDP x 100/6. If ALL of the GDP was earnt from "selling labour" (that is, working in jobs and noone earnt income on assets) the wealth would be indeterminate. Obviously the true situation is somewhere between these two extremes.

    I might be wrong here, but my gut instinct tells me there is likely to be more income earnt by Cantonese speakers in the form of return on investments than there is by Mandarin speakers. Let's say Cantonese speakers' GDP is earnt 50% by labour and 50% by capital, and Mandarin speakers' GDP is earnt 70% by labour and 30% by capital (I have no basis whatsoever for these figures, they are just wild guesses on my part).

    So, with these assumptions, it would work out like this:

    Mandarin speakers:

    Say 840,000,000 of them earning US$2k per year, total income US$1,680,000,000,000. 30% of this return is return on assets = US$504,000,000,000. At rate of return 6% this equates to total wealth of US$8,400,000,000,000 (US$8.4trillion using English [not American] numbering system).

    Cantonese speakers:

    Say 70,000,000 of them earning US$10k per year, total income US$700,000,000,000. 50% of this return is return on assets = US$350,000,000,000. At rate of return 6% this equates to total wealth of US$5,833,000,000,000 (US$5.833trillion using English [not American] numbering system).

    This would mean that the total wealth of Mandarin speakers is about 144% of the total wealth of Cantonese speakers.

    Ok, these are wild numbers but good enough for the purpose I needed - looks like I could pretty safely say that the total wealth of Mandarin speakers worldwide is somewhere between 100% to 200% the total wealth of Cantonese speakers worldwide.

    Thanks for stimulating my brain to try to come up with a rough answer to the problem.
    Last edited by Andrew W Scott; 03-10-2006 at 01:32 PM.

  4. #4

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    Mandarin as mother tongue

    700 million people is not the number of people who speak Mandarin as their mother tongue.

    According to a survey in PRC:

    - 53 per cent of the population can communicate with the language known as putonghua.

    - only 18 per cent of those surveyed speak Mandarin while talking to the family members, while 42 per cent speak at school, work or play.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english...ent_403419.htm

    18% of Mainland Chinese makes 235 million (of 1,306 million total); we also need to add those in Taiwan and Overseas, but total should be still well below 300 million.


  5. #5

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    And then there are the Shanghainese speakers .. Li Ka Shing himself could mess that average up by being included in that group.


  6. #6

    Thank you for correcting my English. Actually, I know the difference between capita and capital, and the problem of 'million' very well. It is just easy for me to make these stupid mistakes in message boards.

    Three comments:

    1. There are over 1.3 billion people in China now.

    2. It is true that GDP cannot reflect the meaning of 'wealth'. How about saving in bank? I can give you some figures like, the total saving in Hong Kong banks is about HK $3000 Billion (around 0.5 million per person). The total saving in all the China banks is about HK$12500 Billion.

    3. Generally speaking, I think you just underestimate the 'hidden' assets in Mainland China.

    Last edited by bunnypanda; 03-10-2006 at 02:27 PM.

  7. #7

    Migao, thanks for that information. Firstly I'm staggered that only 53% of mainland Chinese can communicate in Putonghua. For the purposes I need this calculation for 53% would be the effective figues, not 18%.

    I'm talking about the "effective lingua franca for mass media communication". In other words, what "nationwide" broadcast TV shows would be in. That would have to be Mandarin, right?

    If only 53% of mainland Chinese can understand Mandarin, there are a lot of mainland Chinese that aren't getting nationwide mass media communication I guess. Ah!!! But wait, in China, almost all TV comes with subtitles, right!! So it doesn't matter which version of Chinese you speak (Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, etc) you still understand the message if you can be bothered to read the subtitles, since they are the same for all Chinese (except Cantonese-only characters which puts yet another twist on this increasingly complex problem). Then again, probably a lot of people can't for TV ads and the like, and would much rather just listen in the language they can understand.

    I've never been to Shanghai (I am actually hoping to correct that anomoly sooner rather than later) - do they broadcast all their TV mostly in Shanghainese there, or Mandarin?

    Another factor in all this is that although 47% of the population may not be able to communicate in Putonghua, that does not mean 47% of the wealth is held by non-Putonghua-speaking mainland China residents. I am guessing a very large percentage of the wealth (which I'm guessing is mostly accumulated in the East of China rather than the West) would be held by Mandarin speakers. When I say Mandarin speakers, I mean people who use Mandarin as a lingua franca even though it may not be what they speak at home.

    Help! All I need is a percentage. What would the total wealth held by people who can communicate comfortably in Mandarin be as a percentage of the total wealth of people who can communicate comfortably in Cantonese? 100%?


  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Melb:
    1. Actually it should be GDP per "capita" not per "capital". "Per capita" is an expression we use in English that is taken directly from Latin. It means exactly the same as "per head" or "per person".

    2. When you quote plural millions, for example "6 million" you don't use the plural word "millions" you still say "million". Yes I know it doesn't make sense but that's English for you. You don't say "3 hundreds or 7 thousands" you should say "3 hundred or 7 thousand". In the same way you don't say "6 millions" you say "6 million".
    Having just read the thread Chinese people with English 'names' I have just split my sides after reading the above

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by bunnypanda:
    Thank you for correcting my English. Actually, I know the difference between capita and capital, and the problem of 'million' very well. It is just easy for me to make these stupid mistakes in message boards.

    Three comments:

    1. There are over 1.3 billion people in China now.

    2. It is true that GDP cannot reflect the meaning of 'wealth'. How about saving in bank? I can give you some figures like, the total saving in Hong Kong banks is about HK $3000 Billion (around 0.5 million per person). The total saving in all the China banks is about HK$12500 Billion.

    3. Generally speaking, I think you just underestimate the 'hidden' assets in Mainland China.
    Sorry about the perhaps over-zealous English corrections, it's hard to know what is simply what someone doesn't know and what is just a typo. I know people generally like their English to be corrected. I'm not being a smart-ass (or arse), you multilingual guys are way superior to me since your English is so much better than my <insert your native language here>.

    Savings in bank gives me some kind of relative proportion I guess. Roughly 4x as much saving in mainland China than in HK, so it might be safe to assume roughly 4x (or maybe more due to higher proportion of non-bank assets) net wealth in mainland China than HK. I'm surprised total bank savings only works out to be HK$500k per capita, with all the overseas companies based here.

    Also I knew there was >1.3b people in China. 800m seems to be the figure most quoted as Mandarin speakers so I was assuming the other 500m or so was non-Mandarin speaking mainland Chinese.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by KnowItAll:
    And then there are the Shanghainese speakers .. Li Ka Shing himself could mess that average up by being included in that group.
    Can Li Ka Shing speak Mandarin? That's a serious question...

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