One out of three Hongkongers would emigrate if they had the chance, according to a Chinese University of Hong Kong survey.

The university’s Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies said that compared to a similar survey in September 2017, “there [had been] no statistically significant change.”

Protest march teresa cheng
Hundreds marched in the rain to protest the DoJ’s decision not to prosecute CY Leung on December 23, 2018.

The main factors responsible for Hong Kong people wanting to move were dissatisfaction over political disputes and social splits, as well as that of local living conditions.

When respondents were asked to rate Hong Kong’s quality of living between 0 and 100, the average score for Hong Kong as a livable city rated by the respondents was 62.1. The institute said it was “a statistically significant drop from that of last year.”

The institute successfully interviewed 708 people over 18 between December 11 and 17, and the response rate was 37.3 per cent. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.68 percentage points, at a confidence level of 95 per cent.

Around 34 per cent of the respondents indicated they would emigrate if they had the chance.

Among those who would like to move, 16.2 per cent are planning to move. The institute said that figure was not statistically significant when compared with 13.4 per cent of last year.

Lion Rock
Lion Rock with public housing in the foreground. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The survey found that the younger generation were more eager to leave than the older generation, with 51 per cent of the age group between 18 and 30 saying they had considered emigrating.

More respondents with college or higher education – 47.9 per cent of them – wanted to leave than Hongkongers from other levels of education.

The three most popular emigration destinations were Canada at 18.8 per cent, Australia at 18 per cent, and Taiwan at 11.3 per cent.

The top three attractive factors of overseas countries for respondents planning to move were “ample living space” at 35 per cent, “better air quality, less pollution and beautiful environment” at 22.3 per cent, and “more liberty and better conditions for human rights” at 15.6 per cent.

The institute said the top factors have not changed when compared to last year’s results.

Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photo: CUHK.

The top three aspects of Hong Kong that made residents want to stay were “convenience of life” at 46.9 per cent, “a Chinese society/the language the majority speaks/accustomed to life/friendly society” at 27.3 per cent, and “good infrastructures and institutions” at 25.9 per cent.

Only 6.7 per cent of the respondents had foreign right of abode, and 32.8 per cent had family members or relatives now living abroad.

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.