Youth population shrinks 25pc in 30 years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 4:09am

Hong Kong may face a threat to its economic productivity amid a drastic 25 per cent drop in the number of young people here in the last 30 years.

The number of people aged between 15 and 24 has fallen from 1.146 million in 1981 to 860,000 in 2011, government statistics show.

That means young people make up only 12.6 per cent of the population, down from 22.5 per cent 30 years ago.

The Census and Statistics Department released the data yesterday, noting that the last of the 1950s and 1960s baby-boomer generation had moved from being youths to adults in the last 30 years. "They were replaced by the much smaller number of people who were born during the late 1970s and the 1980s and, hence, the proportion of youths dropped rapidly from 1981-1996," the department said in a report.

Political scientist James Sung Lap-kung, of City University, warned that fewer young people would mean a drop in the city's productivity and ability to compete in the global market.

He said suggested the government put more resources into education. "When we don't have the quantity to compete with other places, we need to have a higher quality of workers to maintain Hong Kong's edge. So the government should invest more in tertiary education," he said.

Sung also said it would be important to nurture the estimated 170,000 children born here to mainland parents, who have residency in the city. "This group of young people can help bulk up the shrinking youth population."

Meanwhile, official data also showed more young people live with their families than alone. Some 94.6 per cent of young people lived with their parents in 2011 - up from 91.5 per cent in 2001.

And marriage? Young people are staying single for longer. The proportion of young people who have never married rose from 96.2 per cent in 2001 to 97.9 per cent in 2011. And the proportion already married fell from 3.6 to 2 per cent in the same period.