UK move ‘won’t make your kids happy’, expert warns

An economist has cautioned parents that their unhappy children may not be any better off if the family decides to move to the United Kingdom.

Lingnan University’s Professor Ho Lok-sang made the comments after reports emerged that as many as three thousand Hongkongers each week were applying for British National (Overseas) visas, which allow them to live in the UK.

Speaking on RTHK’s Letter to Hong Kong programme, Ho said he’d been carrying out an annual survey on happiness since 2006, and had been struck by Hong Kong people’s resilience after the 2008 global financial crisis.

“Then I realised that one’s mindset matters to happiness at least as much as circumstances. There is now considerable evidence supporting the thesis that mindset matters to happiness, and that mindset can be trained. Thus, one can choose to be happy if one is given the chance,” Ho said.

He quoted a recent study by the Boys and Girls Clubs Association which found that Hong Kong children’s happiness had fallen to the lowest level in five years, but warned against expecting Britain to be a panacea for this.

“The 2020 Good Childhood Report from the UK also noted that average happiness with life among 10 to 15 year olds in the UK continues to decline and that 15 year olds in the UK are among the saddest and least satisfied with their lives in Europe. This suggests that migrating to the UK is unlikely to make our children happier.”

Instead, Hong Kong people needed to “nurture a mind that can be at ease with ourselves”, Ho said.