According to the eleventh annual Hong Kong Happiness Index Survey, the level of happiness of the city’s people is at its lowest in seven years.

With a score of 70.0 on a scale of 0 to 100, this year’s score is slightly lower than last year’s 70.5. Perhaps surprisingly, the Happiness Index for the age group below 30 rose from 67.8 to 69.3, in contrast to a drop for people aged over 30.

Professor Ho Lok-sang, Affiliate Fellow of the Centre for Public Policy Studies in Lingnan University. Photo: Lingnan University

The study was conducted by Lingnan University’s Centre for Public Policy Studies from 30 September to 6 October, by telephone. A total of 913 respondents aged 21 and over were selected by random sampling, with a response rate of 24.7 percent.

The findings show a significant rise of 7 percent for people with a monthly household income of between HK$10,000 and HK$20,000, while those with family incomes of HK$20,000 to HK$30,000 saw a 4.7 percent fall. Meanwhile, on a scale of 0 to 10, respondents who work over 60 hours a week score 6.56, 7 percent lower than those who work 39 hours or below.

Professor Ho Lok Sang, Affiliate Fellow of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, has suggested that the overall drop may have been caused by the worsening social atmosphere and conflicts in the city. With this year’s economic uncertainty, Ho says that the index has dropped for people aged over 30, since they face pressures at work and in the family.

Ho thinks the improvements for the younger age group may be because they see some opportunities for social change – such as by running as candidates in the district elections.

The survey measures factors related to Love, Insight, Fortitude and Engagement; it  shows a significant increase of 0.35 in the Engagement score, which reflects purposive living, for younger people aged 21-29.  The findings have also shown a continuous rise in the Engagement Index for elderly people from 6.66 in 2011 to this year’s 7.69.

With the assistance of the Public Governance Programme, the Hong Kong Happiness Index Survey has been conducted on a yearly basis since 2005.


Koel Chu

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.