Plunging population not just down to emigration: govt

Official figures show that Hong Kong’s population fell by 87,000 people over the past year, or about 1.2 percent, to 7,394,700.

In a statement, the government said the drop from mid-2020 to mid-2021 can be attributed to a natural decrease, whereby the number of deaths was higher than the number of births.

Another reason, authorities said, was a net outflow of Hong Kong residents, with 89,200 people having left the SAR and only 13,900 coming to the territory.

Officials blamed the Covid-19 pandemic and stringent border restrictions for deterring people – such as One-way Permit holders, foreign domestic helpers, students and workers – from coming to Hong Kong.

A government spokesman added that the figures did not necessarily indicate a high level of emigration.

“Net movement, which includes the movement of Hong Kong residents into and out of Hong Kong for various purposes including work and study, is conceptually different from immigration and emigration,” the spokesman said.

“Being an international city, Hong Kong’s population has always been mobile. During the past 10 years, net outflows of Hong Kong residents other than One-way Permit holders were recorded for most of the years.”

According to the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority’s latest annual report, almost HK$6.6 billion worth of funds had been withdrawn from April 2020 to March this year by people who claimed they’d be leaving Hong Kong permanently.

The figure is 27 percent higher than the previous financial year, and the highest on record.

In response to the latest figures, Professor Paul Yip from the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration said there’s no doubt that there’s been an increase in the number of people emigrating.

He called the trend “worrying”, and expressed concern that the latest emigration wave will lead to a brain drain and exacerbate the city’s aging population problem, putting even more burden on the social welfare and healthcare systems here.

The expert on population policy added that many of those leaving Hong Kong are professionals and are extremely talented, and their quality are in general higher than newcomers.

He called on the authorities to try and understand and address the concerns of those leaving Hong Kong in order to retain talent and maintain the city’s long-term competitiveness.
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Last updated: 2021-08-12 HKT 21:37