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  • Jul 31, 2014
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Lifestyle

Work and pay woes put Hong Kong residents in doldrums compared to China's cities

Post survey shows city's mood has taken a dive, with its stressed-out residents less happy with their standard of living than those on mainland

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 December, 2013, 6:26am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 December, 2013, 7:33pm

People in Hong Kong are far more unhappy with life than those in cities on the mainland, a South China Morning Post poll has revealed.

Most say they work too hard and are paid too little, with the gloomy mood extending to everything from air quality to relationships.

And fewer than a quarter of Hongkongers felt their standard of living had improved in recent years, while most mainlanders - 66 per cent on average - said their lives were better.

In fact, Hongkongers said they were happier only when it came to medical provision and food safety.

Dr Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the results were not surprising.

"Hong Kong's happiness is lower than most places in the world," he said. "Life is hard and it is a very stressful city. A lot of people are unhappy with living standards and the air quality."

The survey was commissioned by the Post and carried out by the global market research company Ipsos.

It covered Hong Kong and seven mainland cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang , Xian , Wuhan and Chengdu .

Just 40 per cent of Hong Kong respondents said they were happy, while in Shanghai and Beijing the figure was around 70 per cent.

Money was a big factor. An average of 42 per cent on the mainland said they were satisfied with their income, while only 22 per cent felt the same way in Hong Kong.

Hongkongers were also more pessimistic about the prospects of a pay rise.

They were shown to work a 48-hour week compared to 411/2 hours on the mainland, and more than 80 per cent felt under pressure at work, compared to 48 per cent on the mainland.

A total of 2,400 people aged 20 and over were interviewed in the online poll.

Those questioned in Hong Kong, where the median monthly household income is about HK$22,000, had an individual monthly wage of at least HK$15,000.

In the first-tier mainland cities, the minimum income was 5,000 yuan (HK$6,330) and in the second-tier cities it was 4,000 yuan.

Nearly three-quarters of Shanghai residents said they felt safe in their city, with Beijing ranked second at 62 per cent.

Only 49 per cent of Hongkongers said they felt safe - although that was one percentage point higher than the average in the mainland cities.

And just 44 per cent of Hongkongers said they got on well with their families, compared to 81 per cent of mainlanders.

The figures were similar when it came to Hongkongers' relationships with their friends and work colleagues.

In general, half of the mainland interviewees were satisfied with their living environment, compared to less than a third of Hongkongers.

The city's residents even expressed greater dissatisfaction with air quality - despite the problem being much worse in mainland cities.

However, the poll was carried out in August, before the recent air pollution in Beijing and Shanghai.

Political scientist Ma said Hong Kong was a relatively safe city, "but when people get used to it, they don't recognise that any more".

He added: "Of course, Hong Kong is more free than most, if not all, of mainland cities.

"But some polls show that people are worried that the city's freedom is deteriorating."

However, comedian Jami Gong, founder of the TakeOut Comedy Club in Central, tried to put a positive spin on things.

"We've got the Octopus card, cheap taxis, the greatest transportation in the world and you can pay your electricity bill at 5 o'clock in the morning at a 7-Eleven," he said.

"The weather is fantastic and there's Disneyland and great hiking trails.

"I tell people we've got the best of both worlds because you can be in the metropolis and then, after 30 minutes on a bus, you can be on a beach."

Gong, 44, who came to Hong Kong from New York seven years ago, said there was a distinct difference between the happiness levels of expatriates and locals.

"Locals are miserable," he joked. "They are not as positive as they should be."

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This article is now closed to comments

pslhk
Reminds me of EM Foster’s The Other Side of the Hedge
-
HK people are unhappy and glum because they’re not doing things
that HK people of bygone ages used to do
-
They don’t go to movies and miss the experience of sharing intense feelings
watching foreign soccer on tv rather than playing their own balls
listening to music inside their scalps from headphones
seeing the world thru facebook
they’re lost in splendid isolation
-
For the freedom and independence they desire
they’ve lost the capacity to appreciate the finer things of life, such as
the pleasure of sharing an a go go and foxtrot with a partner
and the emotional depth of 唐書璇’s 董夫人 and Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata
-
The cause of gloom is not economic
Who may complain too much
about adverse effects of shoebox residence and long working hours
given the experiences of Carrie Lam, Rimsky Yuen, Joseph Yam, Wong Yanlung, ..?
-
There’s also a primary cause of confusions of identity and purpose
as JDS (8 Dec 7:48am) succinctly put it
HK people unknowingly suffer from
“the dimwittedness of its low quality expat population
and a harbor named after the porky Victoria”
-
China is wide open
But HK people are imprisoned
in their self-imposed cultural prejudice of colonial origin
caractacus
Hong Kongers were always are bunch of hard faced, venal bast ards. The reason the Mainlanders appear to be happier is because comparatively they have in the last decade or two been massively improving their incomes.
Another factor may be that HKers are becoming more and more aware of how rotten the economic and political systems are and the best opportunities are restricted to Govt. appointed officials, property and business tycoons and those who practise "Guanxi".
impala
Let's have a public consultation about this, then change nothing or only do what is right for big business/Beijing/the rich.* Meanwhile, carry on like all is swell and babble some more about hubs, rule of law, and how we need a third runway.

* any or all of the above.
likingming
No wonder we have not heard any illegal immigrants from the mainland for decades.
No wonder we could not fill up the 150 quota daily for the mainlanders to re-union with their HK families.
recruitment
All polls I witnessed that included Hong Kong people showed the same phenomena, i.e less satisfied people. Why? Well, start by asking how the poll was done!? Did you have a scale of let's say 1 to 5? Or how? If you put a scale like 1 to 5 in the hand of a "Hong Konger" I promise you they all put 3 or maybe even 2 whatever they are thinking because you ALWAYS need to balance everything and nothing is that good today so it can't be better! :-) At least this is my experience from more than 12 years on Hong Kong. AND, you seriously can't compare mainland China with Hong Kong. I think the result you are showing and writing about is extremely misleading. If a mainlander was used to having an average of 2000 as monthly income and today they have 8000 of course they are happy! If a Hong Kong citizen had 15000 and today they have "only" 18000 they feel miserable! So how can you compare apples and pears? AND if you work longer hours do you get any extra benefits for that or not? What is "quality of life" in different cultures? Hong Kong Chinese is definitely NOT the same as mainland Chinese and even if lots and lots of foreigners think that "Chinese are Chinese" it is definitely not so! Before you publish an article like this I am expecting much more information regarding how the poll was done and in what way it was measured and how the answers where givien, i.e scale or how?
HK-Explorer
Hong Kong people are missing the ability to create their own fun and happyness. I go out of the city allot to country parks and some parks in the city. They are normally empty. They are quiet and beautiful.
Hong Kong people flock to busy areas like Mong Kok, TST and Causway Bay. Then theoy complain about how packed Hong Komg is.
But they miss beuitiful convienient places like the parks / waterfront behind tai ko shing. The parks around Kowloon City. The new parks at Tamar. Lion Rock Park. The new cruise terminal, science park and the bike trails.
There are so many great free places to go and more Hong Kong people need to get out there.
sipsip1238
Totally agree, but that is also because majority of locals perceive a happy lifestyle needs to include money. And that is definitely exacerbated by many media and social networking sites which allows "friends" to show off whatever new bag or phone they've bought; causing a case of social network induced depression. In actual fact, people don't understand that when you really have wealth, you never try to flaunt it but instead should put it to better use (either to generate more wealth or helping others.)
Hong Kong's youths are influenced by media and parents to only perceive material goods as the only way to achieve satisfaction, when in fact there are many natural beauties available like you said, and honestly, there is also the option to stop thinking about yourself and volunteer to help someone worst off, maybe that way you'll see that what you whinge about might already be like a kingdom to someone in need.
In a nutshell, part of the reason why locals are so unsatisfied is because they are unable to open their eyes a little wider than beyond themselves, which is quite sad when you think about it, because until they do, they are not going to have the motivation to make their lives both financially and emotionally better.
jd.salinger.3154
My guess is that the main cause of Hong Kong's misery has much to do with having to tolerate the dimwittedness of its low quality expat population and a harbor named after the porky Victoria.
sipsip1238
HK people are unhappy because they are not satisfied with the things they have (both items and things like family) and are always envious/jealous about others without ever doing anything about it.
Very often you hear people whinge about friends who have a more luxurious lifestyle than them or how their friends have wealthy parents, why can't they have wealthy parents; the truth is, nothing in life should be handed over to you on a silver platter.
There is a complex that HK locals tends to have and that is look down on people who are worst off than you and defame people that might be better off than you (mostly focusing on wealth). Most recently, I heard a bunch of middle-aged ladies chat in a cafe, and they were gossiping about how another friend's (not present) child lost his job, had to borrow money and how people like him/her deserves that; then moments later, they were gossiping about another friend's child getting a car (quite pricey) and it must've been second hand because he wouldn't be able to afford it if it wasn't.
Honestly, who gives a **** what you think, and karma tends to come around, so would you like it if someone said that about your child if they lost their job?
andreaswagner
Seems like in the 48 hour working weeks the 2-3 hour lunch breaks are included:). Working long and working hard are 2 entirely different things. Maybe Hongkongers have to look into working more efficiently.

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