Greater satisfaction, good pay rises and reduced air pollution: Hongkongers quality of life on the rise according to survey

The ‘significant’ improvement was the biggest jump ever recorded in the study, and the first major improvement in seven years

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 8:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 11:37pm

Hongkongers’ quality of life has “significantly improved” for the first time since 2010, fuelled by greater life satisfaction, inflation-beating pay rises and reduced air pollution, a Chinese University of Hong Kong survey has claimed.

But freedom of speech and the intensity of press criticism of the government and local corporations has continued to decline, researchers said.

Compiled annually since 2003, the Hong Kong Quality of Life Index studies year-on-year changes of 23 indicators from the five categories of health, society, culture and leisure, economy, and environment.

With a base score of 100 for 2002, the index for 2016 stood at 105.39, compared to 101.32 for the previous year.

Housing issues and pollution lead to Hong Kong trailing Singapore in quality-of-life rankings

It was the biggest jump ever recorded, and the first major improvement since 2010.

The economic index recorded the most significant improvement, spurred by inflation-beating pay hikes for the city’s 3.8 million-strong labour force last year.

A brief drop in home prices early last year also contributed to a better housing affordability ratio, but researchers noted the situation was still far from ideal.

In 2016 the ratio stood at 14.55, denoting the number of years required for a median income-earning household to purchase a 300 sq ft flat in urban areas, without spending a dollar of their income on anything except housing.

Professor Terence Chong Tai-leung of the Department of Economics said an ideal ratio would be anything below eight years, and one above 10 years would be “very difficult” for aspiring homeowners.

“This is also a timely message for the new government to do more to solve the housing crisis,” added Professor Wong Hung, who heads the university’s Centre for Quality of Life.

Pollsters used government statistics and also surveyed 1,001 adults through random sampling by phone, asking them how they felt on a range of issues.

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For example, respondents last year gave better scores when asked to gauge their satisfaction in life and their level of stress.

Professor Roger Chung Yat-nork from the School of Public Health and Primary Care said a heightened sense of personal well-being may have driven Hongkongers to devote more time to leisure activities.

But freedom of speech fell for the fourth consecutive year, while the intensity of press criticism was found to have scaled down.

Wong said these two indices accurately reflected the general sentiment among the public.

“Political bickering has become increasingly common – people now express their opinions in a more cautious manner, especially on social media. There are growing worries of consequences,” he explained.