July 29, 2005

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Men an Endangered Species in HK?

Today's Standard carries the story of how the ratio of men to women in Hong Kong has changed substantially over the last two decades. While in 1981 for every 1,087 men there were only 1,000 women, the situation has reversed - now there are only 929 men for every 1,000 women.

Why is that? Obviously Hong Kong is not the drive-by shooting capital of the world, so it is not due to violent crime. Rather, it is due to the number of domestic servants that have come to the territory from the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as because of the number of one-way female permit holders coming over the border from the PRC.

The writer Gavin Bowring (any relation to the journalist Philip Bowring, or for that matter to Governor Bowring from the 1850s?) extends the trend further to an absurd and amusing level:

The department says that if this trend continues, men will be a rare commodity by mid-2033 with only 698 of them to cater to the needs and desires of 1,000 women, with the total population standing at 8.38 million - an average growth rate of 0.7 percent annually from the current 6.8 million.
He goes to say that because Hong Kong's women are better educated and qualified than the men, the number of women entering the workforce over the last 18 years was almost double that of men.

What a change from the early days of Hong Kong, when women were a rare sight, and according to the Superintendent of Police Charles May in 1877, "over 80 per cent of the Chinese women in the colony, then numbering about 24,000, were engaged in prostitution." Shows what can happen when women are given proper opportunities and an education... something some of those 'female one-way permit holders from China' could use some of as well.

posted by HK Dave on 07.29.05 at 06:47 PM in the


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Damn it - if only I was born 30 years later.

posted by: Phil on 07.29.05 at 07:08 PM [permalink]

The stats assume that the one-way permit holder trend will continue. There are 150 PRC citizens allowed in each day, most of which are adult women. This initiative allows mainly wives to join husbands and let's assume they will build families. I would expect that once the husbands are reunited with their PRC spouses, and that the female imbalance is clearly recognized, that the HKSAR authortities will make a change. I said 'expect'. It would be highly unusual that the authorities would allow some form of demographic time bomb explode here, so don't get too wound up, too early.

posted by: doug on 07.31.05 at 11:01 PM [permalink]

"with only 698 men to cater to the needs and desires of 1,000 women."

Well, I'm doing my bit.

posted by: Conrad on 08.01.05 at 04:07 PM [permalink]

Philip Bowring is related to Governor Bowring. Source - himself.

Don't know about the Standard reporter though.

posted by: anon on 08.02.05 at 12:43 PM [permalink]

Good to hear, Conrad, although despite the efforts of Ho Kom-Tong, Fuk-Tong and his descendants (including one casino tycoon), polygamy remains illegal...:)

Thanks anon for the link between the Bowrings. That has always aroused my curiosity...

posted by: David on 08.02.05 at 12:56 PM [permalink]

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