Hong Kong government urged to provide incentives to attract private capital into ‘silver hair market’
City’s aged population predicted to grow to 2.28 million
In 20 years’ time, nearly one in three Hong Kong residents will be aged 65 or older.
Is that a risk or an opportunity?
Facing such a rapidly growing aged population, Legislative Council member Tony Tse Wai-chuen has urged the government to provide incentives to attract private capital into the market, in a move to ease the government’s burden as well as provide a higher standard of living for those able to afford it.
“There were 1.13 million aged people in Hong Kong last year. The number will grow to 2.28 million, accounting for 30 per cent of the total population. This is a big number,” said Tse, who represents the Architectural, Surveying and Planning functional Constituency in Legco.
He said a sizeable proportion would be on upper to middle incomes and in the market for aged-friendly homes with good features, and that made it a market worth developing.
“Aged people do not necessarily need to move to nursing homes when they get old,” Tse said.
They could choose to live alone in a private unit in a good district, he said, and would be able to maintain a high standard of living if the private sector could provide such products.
The government had to take the initiative, such as changing land use restrictions and providing incentives to attract private capital, he said.
For example, Tse said, the government could list requirements for the building of aged-friendly features and clinics on sites before they were offered for sale.
In terms of aged-friendly features, bigger apartment entrance doors and wider corridors would eat up the saleable area of a project development. Tse proposed the government encourage developers to provide aged-friendly features in their developments, in return for saleable floor area
exemptions for areas with such features.
He estimated construction costs would be about 5 per cent higher than for a project without aged-friendly features.
“Developers will not invest in it if the government does not provide incentives,” Tse said.
To encourage the elderly to live in a community with young people, Tse proposed developers build 30 per cent of units for the aged.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in his 2016 policy address in January that the government had promulgated a series of policies and public works projects under the theme of building an aged-friendly environment.
That same month, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor highlighted the ageing population’s role in giving momentum to the development of the “silver hair market” – an economic segment estimated to be worth US$3 trillion in the Asia-Pacific region by next year.
Lam said that market offered plenty of economic opportunities, for example, in financial services, medical services and insurance, tourism, fitness and grooming, and elderly housing.