The government’s latest population distribution projections report has forecast that the population of Hong Kong Island will decrease over time, with more than half of Hongkongers living in the New Territories by 2024.

The population of the New Territories and Kowloon will increase to the tune of 456,600 and 132,400, reaching 4.24 million and 2.33 million respectively by that year. However, the number of people on Hong Kong Island is expected to ease gradually from 1.27 million to 1.19 million, the Planning Department report said.

In September, the Census and Statistics Department projected that Hong Kong’s population will increase to 7.76 million by mid-2024, meaning that 55 percent of the population will then live in the New Territories.

Tuen Mun new town. Photo: Wikicommons.
Tuen Mun new town. Photo: Wikicommons.

Around 299,100 new residents are expected to move into 12 new towns in the New Territories in the interceding ten years, bring the number of people in new towns up to 3.69 million.

Tuen Mun will be the most populous new town with over half a million (554,000) residents. North Lantau new town will see the sharpest increase in population, shooting up by 44.3 percent.

Across 13 districts, more than 20 percent of the population will be over 65 years old. The highest concentration of elderly Hongkongers will be found in Hong Kong Island’s Wan Chai (28 percent) and Central and Western (25 percent) and Eastern (28.2 percent) districts.

Chinese University of Hong Kong geography professor Edward Yiu Chung-yim told Ming Pao that Hong Kong’s planning was problematic since the government ignored the impacts that a rapidly aging population.

Yiu said that the population of Hong Kong Island will record more deaths than other districts. Combined with high property prices and rent forcing young people out, the living space per person will increase, eliminating the need for a non-subsidised quality retirement housing project.

Yiu added that young people and new immigrants will be concentrated in places such as new towns with cheaper property prices, and the living space per person there will shrink as a result.

The government should carry out measures such as reverse mortgaging to encourage elderly people to sell their current flats and move into smaller ones, and thereby help with the unequal distribution of resources, Yiu said.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.