University of Hong Kong
Department of Social Work & Social Administration
BSW FT (2007-8)
Social Policy and Planning
Lecture 4 Hong Kong Socio-demographic conditions and trends
Population characteristics – aging, low fertility ratio, raising life expectancy and dependency
ratio, immigrants, and ethnic minorities
Hong Kong has been a migrant society; there were several waves of migrants from mainly China
after WWII. The influx resulted in an average increase of 1 million in population size for each
decade. The various waves covered during the periods in which there were significant political
movements/events in the mainland – the Great Leap Forward (1959), Cultural Revolution (1966),
Open Door Policy (1978) and closer ties between HK and China which reflects in the one-way
permit quota system since the mid-nineties (on average, 150 per day).
Hong Kong is an ageing society. It has the lowest fertility
80 rate in the world. By now, people aged 65 or above
constitute 12.1% of the population. It will become 26.8%
in 2033, which will be higher than that of Japan and
40 Germany. In 2004, a small percentage (around 7%) or
30 70,000 older persons aged 60 or above resided in China
20 (香港社會服務聯會, 2006)
1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Source: (Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development, 2006, p.44)
According to 2006 by-census 404,073 persons or 6.4% of Hong Kong population were ethnic
minorities (C&SD, 2007). Among the ethnic minority population, Indians (4.4%), Nepalese (3.9%)
and Pakistanis/ Bangladesh /Sri Lankan (3.0%) constitute a significant proportion of persons
permanently residing in Hong Kong. The life expectancy of people at birth in Hong Kong ranks
fifth in the world, at 81.59 in 2006 (estimates). Life expectancy in the past has increased by 3
years in the past in every decade.
Source: (Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development, 2006)
Life expectancy, the top and the bottom
1 Andorra 83.51 222 Zimbabwe 39.29
2 Macau 82.19 223 Angola 38.62
3 San Marino 81.71 224 Lesotho 34.40
4 Singapore 81.71 225 Botswana 33.74
5 Hong Kong 81.59 226 Swaziland 32.62
6 Japan 81.25
Source: CIA World Fact Book, 2006
The baby-boom in HK started also after WWII (1945) but reached its height in 10 years between
1956 and 1965. This cohort alone, which is 1.5 million in population size, constitutes more than
one-fifth of the population.
(Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development, 2006)
(Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development, 2006, p.44)
People coming from the mainland with the one-way permit have been mainly women (aged 25-49)
and children. Most of them came to Hong Kong for family reunion.
Source: (Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development, 2006, p.46)
The dependency ratio is still low now and it will decrease in the coming years before it starts to
rise in 2010.
Child and Elderly
dependency ratios refer
to the number of persons
aged under 15 and those
aged 65 and above
respectively per 1 000
persons aged between 15
and 64. “Overall
dependency ratio” refers
to the sum of child and
window is constructed by
setting a cut-off for the
overall dependency ratio.
If the cut-off point is 400, we will then have a demographic window from 1997 to 2019, between
which the overall dependency ratio is lower than 400.
The education attainment of people in HK is low in comparison with western standards. Only
about 12-13% of its population in 2005 are degree holders (if sub-degree level tertiary education
are included, the percentage reaches 18-20%).
In the EU-15, nearly 28% of 25-34 year olds had been educated to degree level in 2003, compared
to 16% of 55-64 year olds1.
(Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development, 2006)
Economic conditions – Income per capita, Gini coefficient, upper and lower quartiles, median
income (individual and households), government revenue and expenditure
Measured by income per-capita (Purchasing Power Parity, PPP), HK ranks 15th in the world
(US$32,900), highest in Asia in 2005. Japan ranks 20th, and Singapore 31st, and China 117th
(6,800). In terms of disparity in income distribution among households (measured by Gini
coefficient), Hong Kong fares among the worst in the developed economies (probably, that’s the
result of capitalism without much democracy).
0. 525 香港 ( 2001)
0. 447 中國 ( 2001)
0. 425 新加坡( 1998)
0. 326 加拿大( 1998)
0. 316 台灣( 2000)
0. 283 南韓( 1998)
年 12 月 6 日。
Source: The Economist
EU Green Paper 2005, “Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations”
Comparing Gini Coefficient between Hong Kong and other countries
Gini Coefficient based on
Original HH income Post-tax HH Post-tax Post-social
income transfer HH income
Hong Kong .533 .521 .475
Canada .510 .393
UK .510 .360
USA .450 .418
Note: All Hong Kong figures are in 2006, the rest based on statistics available between 2003 and 2005.
Source: Consolidated from Census & Statistics Department (006). 2006 Population By-census: Thematic
Report: Household Income Distribution in Hong Kong, p.109-110.
Source: Commission on Poverty, HKSAR (2007). Report of the Commission on Poverty, p.13
If we take less than half the median income as the indicator for households living at risk of poverty,
by 2001, Sham Shui Po was the district with the highest percentage of poor households, while
Kwun Tong has the greatest number.
There are some other forms of exclusion in the information society. In general, people in older
age and people with lower education attainment benefits least from information society and the
new knowledge economy.
Comprehensive digital inclusion index
Sub-indexes Older New Single Female Children PWD/CI All
people arrivals parents homemakers (low disadvantaged
0.50 0.70 0.71 0.75 0.72 0.53 0.62
Usage 0.04 0.50 0.19 0.06 0.88 0.17 0.26
Knowledge 0.04 0.52 0.41 0.05 0.92 0.14 0.26
Affordability 0.50 0.71 0.48 0.62 0.00 0.54 0.52
CDII 0.27 0.61 0.45 0.37 0.63 0.35 0.41
Unemployment rate was lowered to 3.4% (the 4th quarter of 2007), down from 7.9% in 2003)
Source: Budget 2006, HKSAR
Female labor force participation is high among the younger age cohort (25-29, 86.2%; 30-34,
79.3%) but is low among those aged 40 or above (66.6%) comparing to other developed societies.
The overall labor force participation rate (for those age 15 and above) is 51.8 for female but 71.0
(Hong Kong Council for
Census & Statistics Department, HKSAR (2006). Women and men in Hong Kong: Key statistics, p. 54.
Source: Census & Statistics Department (2006). Women and men in Hong Kong: Key
statistics, p. 54.
Similar to other developed societies, traditional form of family has become increasingly unstable
and its function of providing support and care to its members has eroded.
Note: the figure of divorce decree in
2005 and 2006 were 14873, 17424.
The ratio of divorces to marriages
were both 34.63 Crude marriage rate
refers to the number of marriages
registered in a calendar year per
thousand mid-year population of that
year. Divorce rate: Number of
divorces per 100 new marriages in the corresponding year.
Source: (Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development., 2005)
Around 5% of the households with children are lone parent households in 2005. The percentage in
EU-15 countries was 9 in 2001. There is a more than 10% of children did not live with their
Census & Statistics Department, HKSAR (2007) Demographic Trends: 1981-2006, p.66
Note: Children are those aged under 15
There are more marriages involving a spouse from the mainland. Of the 50,000+ marriages in
2005, More than half involves a spouse from Mainland China.
Marriages in 2005
Local Women Mainland Women
Local Men 21,000 24,900**
Mainland Men 4,900* -
Source: Hong Kong monthly digest of statistics April 2006
It is more than double the figure in 2002; ** It represents an increase of 40% from 2002.
Births in Hong Kong
In 2006, the total number of live births is 65626 (4p.17).In recent years, there has been an increase
in the number of births born in Hong Kong to Mainland women, from 7 810 in 2001 to 26 132 in
2006. Among them, births born in Hong Kong to Mainland women whose spouses are Hong Kong
Permanent Residents increased from 7 190 in 2001 to 9 438 in 2006 (p.32)
Marriages in Hong Kong are characterized also by the rise in late marriages, and in the number of
never married persons5.
Census & Statistics Department, HKSAR (2007). Demographic trends in Hong Kong: 1981-2006. Hong
(Hong Kong (China). Census and Statistics Dept., 2005, p.128)
Unmarried women aged between 20 and 49 are having higher level of education. The median age
of first marriage for men is 30.2 and women, 27.5. Marital gradient is still prevalent – 98% male
married with a women with equal or lower level of education (Hong Kong Monthly Digest of
Statistics, April 2006).
According to EMB, 4,498 school children have to attend school across border representing an
increase of 30% from 2001-02. On the other hand, 19.2% or (10,395 in number) of the new born
babies in Hong Kong were born to mothers living in Mainland China (their father are Hong Kong
citizens). 6629 (or 16.9%) of the single parents CSSA recipients were actually having spouse
living across the border.
Source: Thematic Household Survey Report No.14, 2003 August
Source: (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development., 2005)
Hong Kong (China). Census and Statistics Dept. (2002). 2001 population census. Thematic report :
ethnic minorities. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.
Hong Kong (China). Census and Statistics Dept. (2005). Women and men in Hong Kong key
statistics 2005 edition. Hong Kong: Author.
Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development. (2006). Ehancing population potential for a
sustainable future - Invitation and response docuemnt for the second engagement process
(June 2006). Retrieved. from http://www.susdev.org.hk/en/pdf/IRdocument.pdf.
Census and Statistics Dept., HKSAR (2007) 2006 Population by-census: Summary result. Hong
Hong Kong Housing Authority. (2006). Consultation Paper on the review of domestic rent policy.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2005). Society at a glance : OECD
social indicators 2005 edition (pp. v.). Paris: OECD.
香港社會服務聯會. (2006). 香港願景 2012: 邁向可持續和共融的社會 - 對第三屆香港特別
行政區行政長官候選人政綱的期望. Retrieved Oct 10, 2006, from