Hong Kong air pollution

Air pollution may cause brain drain, study finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:07pm

Poor air quality could lead to an 'alarming' exodus of highly-educated and highly-paid Hongkongers, a survey showed yesterday.

More than a quarter polled in a study commissioned by public policy think tank Civic Exchange said they were seriously considering leaving the city because they found the air quality unbearable.

This was up from a fifth in a similar poll two years ago.

The survey found that almost half of those earning HK$60,000 or more were thinking of moving away.

And more than half of the post-graduate degree holders who responded said they were also considering leaving.

Nearly 60 per cent of those polled said they had no faith in the government's efforts to improve air quality.

The report on the results of the survey, which was conducted by Baptist University's Hong Kong Transition Project for Civic Exchange, said: 'That about one in four are considering or planning to leave Hong Kong due to air pollution is alarming enough.

'That this is an increase from one in five doing so just two years ago is also alarming.

'But of greater significance to Hong Kong's future and competitiveness is who is considering leaving.'

The pollsters interviewed 985 people from different geographical areas, income groups and education levels in May and June.

The rich, better educated and those aged between 40 and 49 are most keen to leave Hong Kong's polluted air behind.

Up to 49 per cent of those earning HK$60,000 a month are considering leaving, compared to 16 per cent of those with a monthly income of less than HK$10,000.

Professionals and managerial ranks also have a higher inclination to leave, with 42 per cent and 38 per cent respectively saying they may go.

And 52 per cent of post-graduate degree holders polled said pollution could prompt them to leave, up from 40 per cent in 2008.

Three-quarters of the highest income earners said they were dissatisfied with the government's efforts in addressing pollution.

More than half of all those questioned said they had little or no trust the government would set and enforce air quality standards.

But two-thirds were more satisfied by efforts to address air pollution problems than two years ago.

The Environmental Protection Department said last night the government attached great importance to improving the air quality in Hong Kong, citing its past efforts.

A spokesman said: 'While people and businesses may come to and leave Hong Kong for a multitude of reasons, we would continue making our best effort to improve the air quality for the health and welfare of our citizens, as well as for maintaining our competitiveness as an international city and a financial hub in Asia and attracting talent to Hong Kong.'