Hong Kong women live the longest

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am


Women in Hong Kong can expect to live longer than anyone else in the world after surpassing their Japanese counterparts for the first time.

Figures from last year's census, made available yesterday, put the average life expectancy for a Hong Kong woman at 86.7 years, up from 84.6 a decade ago.

By contrast, Japan's health ministry produced figures showing that the average life expectancy for a woman was down to 85.9 years - with the authorities citing last year's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster as a factor, along with a rise in the youth suicide rate.

The news is likely to reignite debate about the ageing population in Hong Kong, which still has a low birth rate. Experts warn that the growing number of elderly people will place additional strain on health services.

With a low birth rate and better medical treatment, the median age of the city's population has increased by five years in the last decade, from 36.7 to 41.7. There are 1,890 residents over the age of 100.

Hong Kong men, meanwhile, have long outlived Japanese men, and life expectancy for the city's men remained steady at 78.4 years.

Swiss men live the longest, with the most recent figures, for 2010, showing life expectancy of 80.2 years.

Population policy expert Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai said the government should do more to ensure people stay healthy, as 'demand for medical services will become bigger' with more old people.

Yip also supported the idea of delaying retirement, a policy suggested in the long-delayed report of the government's Steering Committee on Population Policy in May.

The report issued yesterday, titled 'Women and Men in Hong Kong', also showed that women were narrowing the pay gap.

The median monthly salary of women - excluding foreign domestic helpers - was HK$11,000 last year, roughly 85 per cent of the HK$13,000 earned by men.

In 2006, women earned a median HK$9,300 a month compared to HK$11,500 for men.