It will cost HK$5.5 million in today's money to raise a child until graduation from university at the age of 22, according to a pro-government think tank - assuming the child goes to private school and secures a subsidised degree.
For a "no-frills" approach, meaning the child will receive a publicly funded education, the cost plummets to HK$980,000. In contrast, when a child goes to university overseas, the cost rises to HK$6.87 million, said the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre as it launched its online child cost calculator yesterday.
Education, clothing, food, transport, holidays, entertainment, health, insurance, housing and domestic helpers can all be inputted into the calculator.
The HK$5.5 million price tag includes private nursery and kindergarten, Direct Subsidy Scheme schools and regular short- and long-haul trips. It works out at around HK$20,826 per month.
The median household monthly income is HK$22,900, according to the latest government figures.
The Bauhinia think tank acknowledges that child payments would eat up most of the monthly income of a middle-class family, which it puts at between HK$30,000 and HK$59,999.
The calculations reveal the wide differences in expenditure on children between Hong Kong's social classes, noted Dr Chung Kim-wah, assistant professor of applied social sciences at Polytechnic University. He fears it may make relative poverty in the city even more pronounced. "Parents in Hong Kong have this fixation on comparing children's achievements," Chung said.
He asked: "How does a child [from a lower social class] feel after the new school year starts when he learns that his classmates travelled overseas during the summer vacation while he mostly stayed at home?"
He said children would start to feel the pressure of falling behind in society from an earlier age as the bar kept rising.