August 19, 2005

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Hong Kong's gender imbalance

Jake van der Kamp looks at the latest Hong Kong census data and sees a massive increase in the number of females compared to males over the past 15 years. Dave looked at the same data a couple of weeks ago, asking if men are an endangered species in Hong Kong. Jake says:

This change in the sex ratio over just 15 years is once again an enormous one.

The explanation may in part be a technical anomaly. We now count only the resident population in our census - people who live here most of the year. In 1990 we included everyone. It is probable that more men than women among Hong Kong ID card holders are mainland residents for reasons of work and are thus not included in the figures.

But the far more likely reason is the phenomenon in recent years of Hong Kong men bringing home mainland wives. The widespread perception is that mainland women are more willing to accept husbands with lower incomes and are less demanding of them. Unfortunately, it also turns out too often that these women find themselves unhappy here and wind up on social assistance.

The imbalance is one that costs us money as well as potentially leading to social strains.

While that may be partially true, I also suspect that as Hong Kong has become richer more people employ domestic helpers. The vast majority of such helpers are women of the ages where the biggest changes in the sex ratio have occurred. It shouldn't be too hard to test the hypothesis by looking at the origin of females today and back in 1990, given most helpers are from SE Asian countries.

Either way this imbalance is a mirror image, albeit writ small, of what China faces in the years to come. If van der Kamp's theory is true, then Hong Kongers are making the mainland's gender imbalance even worse. It's good news for Hong Kong's remaining bachelors: an increased supply of women. I've said it before: it's good to be a man in Hong Kong.


posted by Simon on 08.19.05 at 01:37 PM in the Hong Kong category.


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I had a feeling you'd pick up on this.

Jake VDK is correct in saying that the imbalance will cost HK money as well as potentially leading to social strains. Mainland immigrants are some of the biggest users of social assistance, medical care etc. I forget the figures, but too many of these HK-man/mainland woman marriages end up with the woman having to fend for herself....or the HK social security system doing the fending for her.

Remember the big debate a couple of years ago in HK about mainland women and HK women. There was a great piece in the SCMP whic hbasically concluded that the average HK man had no hobbies or interests whatsoever. One HK wife lamented that her husband fritters away the weekend reading the HK gossip magazines like Eastweek and doesn't hold a single opinion about anything. She asked him what he thought of the Iraq War and he just stared at her blankly.

I'd tend to agree with those women. HK men are hardly the most opinionated and dynamic guys in the world.

As my old (Brit) boss used to say as he ruefully gazed around our HK office, "Good god, I'm glad we didn't have this lot fighting in the trenches during the war".

posted by: Martyn on 08.19.05 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

Not all of us, old boy. Not all.

I'm not entirely convinced it is all due to mainland women, although it may be in part. But what's the solution? I know- Government ads to make HK men more interesting!

posted by: Simon on 08.19.05 at 02:14 PM [permalink]

I think we should all be killed off.

posted by: doug on 08.19.05 at 03:31 PM [permalink]

The problem is we spend too much time surfing blogs.

posted by: Bromgrev on 08.19.05 at 06:19 PM [permalink]

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