Mainland migrants aren’t a burden to society: study

The Society for Community Organisation on Wednesday said it hopes new research showing that relatively few new arrivals from the mainland rely on government benefits will change people’s perception of migrants.

Baptist University economists looked at families receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance in 2019 and found that only around three percent involved people coming to the SAR on one-way permits.

They said census data in the past two decades also showed that new migrants received higher education than in the past.

While only around five percent of new comers obtained a bachelor’s or higher degree in 2001, that figure was said to have gone up to almost 20 percent in 2016.

The researchers added that immigrants also enjoyed higher salaries in recent years, as reflected by a narrowing income gap between new arrivals and local people.

Sze Lai-shan from the society said she hopes people’s perception of new immigrants will change going forward.

“Some of the people will consider immigrants as a burden of society… saying that over 90 percent of them depend on CSSA, they came here because of the welfare, and they are lowly educated,” she said.

“But according to Baptist University’s survey, we’ll find that actually it is not true… many of them are in the labour force… and actually they have contribution to Hong Kong’s economic development.”

Professor Cheng Yuk-shing, who led the study, echoed her views, saying the authorities should do more to protect new comers, adding that the government needs to step up its efforts to retain talents from the mainland.

“The competition for talent is very serious around the whole world, and a lot of other countries are giving a lot of preferential treatment to those who are willing to come to their cities. For concrete policies, they have to be formulated by the government, but with this background, we believe the government should do more,” he said.

The academic stressed good immigration policies are crucial to Hong Kong because they provide solutions to the local aging workforce.

If it were not for the new arrivals from across the border, he said, Hong Kong’s population under 20 years old would have shrunk by a quarter.