Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Hong Kong's Numbers

View of Central from the Four Seasons hotel
Hong Kongers took part in the latest census last year and now the Census and Statistics Department has released the results.

And the numbers are quite surprising. For a city that thrives on being young, its citizens are more young at heart.

The median age of the population rose from 36.7 years in 2001 to 41.7 last year. There are 940,000 people who are aged 65 and older -- an increase of 200,000 from 10 years ago.

In 1971 the median age was 21.7, which saw a high birth rate and influx of mainland immigrants.

Lily Ou-yang Fong, the department's commissioner, forecasts the median age will rise to 47.6 years in 2039 with the "greying" population increasing.

"This is a matter of concern for the government," she said, referring to the serious social implications for Hong Kong.

The city's population is now 7.07 million.

The census also revealed there are more people living alone, either unmarried or divorced. And not surprisingly, there are 1,000 women (including domestic helpers) for every 876 men.

In the 24 to 44 age category, there were just 725 men for every 1,000 women including domestic helpers. Also 46.8 percent of men and 38.9 percent of women in the "prime marriageable age" category, which is 20 to 49, have never been married.

There is also an increased number of single-person households, from 320,000 to 400,000 last year, with the average nuclear family shrinking from 3.1 people to 2.9.

"It could be the case that people don't live with their grandfathers or mother-in-laws anymore," Fong said. "There are also some people in their 40s to 60s living on their own."

When it comes to finances, the median household income rose from HK$18,710 in 2001 to HK$20,500 last year. More than 550,000 had a monthly income of HK$40,000 or more, compared with 18 percent a decade ago.

However, there are about 85,000 households that live on less than HK$2,000 a month. Another 130,000 households live on between HK$2,000 to HK$4,000 a month.

The Hong Kong government needs to pay attention to these figures, particularly that of the working poor and figure out ways to help out these households. How someone lives on such little money is shocking in a wealthy city.

In the meantime, it seems Hong Kong is a singleton city, and perhaps that's the way its citizens like it.

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