Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hong Kongers are Not Happy

Bright lights, big city, but lots of unhappy people in Hong Kong
A survey done by market research company Ipsos has found Hong Kong people are far more unhappy than their mainland cousins.

Most of the Hong Kong people interviewed said they work too hard and are paid too little, and they are pessimistic about everything from air quality to relationships.

Less than one-quarter of the respondents felt their living standard had improved in recent years, which contrasts with 66 percent on average of mainlanders saying their lives were better.

Perhaps the only things Hong Kong people were pleased about was the medical system and food safety.

Chinese University political scientist Dr Ma Ngok said the results weren't surprising. "Hong Kong's happiness is lower than most places in the world," he said. "Life is hard and it is a very stressful city. A lot of people are unhappy with living standards and the air quality."

The other Chinese cities surveyed were Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Xian, Wuhan and Chengdu. A total of 2,400 people aged 20 and above took the online poll, that was conducted before the recent spate of serious air pollution in Shanghai.

One of the major factors was money, with only 22 percent in Hong Kong reporting they were happy with their income, while it was 42 percent in China.

Part of it is because on average Hong Kong people work 48 hours a week compared to 41.5 hours per week on the mainland.

Of those questioned in Hong Kong, the median monthly household income was HK$22,000 ($2,837) where the minimum monthly wage was HK$15,000, whereas in China it was 5,000 yuan ($822.50) in first-tier cities, 4,000 yuan in second-tier municipalities.

Here in Hong Kong there are definitely hordes of miserable people walking the streets. But that's because regardless of their pay, their bosses are working them to the bone.

One of my friends has a good paying job, but she's been so busy organizing events for her clients that she's had practically no sleep for the past few months. While she said she got seven hours' of sleep, she woke up every hour thinking about work.

In the other extreme there are restaurant wait staff making minimum wage who show no interest in placating customers, which means just getting your order within a reasonable amount of time without a smile is already considered good service.

Hong Kong bosses continue to squeeze more and more out of their employees because they themselves are getting more pressure from management or their clients who are demanding more for their buck.

The pressure and frustration trickles down to the point where people's physical and mental well being are adversely affected. One of my colleagues worked seven days' straight doing two people's work -- and ended up in hospital with the flu complete with lots of tension stored in her neck.

Meanwhile on the mainland salaries keep rising (though inflation does too), but when they compare to what they used to earn before, on the whole they are relatively pleased with their financially mobile status.

While for most young mainland Chinese the acquisition of a flat is still way beyond their reach, they can afford to go abroad, or buy luxury brand handbags or clothing.

Hong Kong people have always been at this stage and want more -- their own home -- which is understandable.

But the more they work, the more they feel they aren't getting anywhere and hence the pessimism...

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