Confidence in Hong Kong’s future has been shaken by a series of political and economic crises, so much so that more people are wondering whether they would be better off living elsewhere. Some have indeed left via different channels. Such a trend does not bode well for the city’s development and warrants closer government attention. If the latest survey of the city’s youth is any reference, nearly 60 per cent of respondents wanted to leave if possible, up from almost half three years ago. They were also more negative about the city’s future, giving an average score of only 2.95 out of 10, down from 4.37 in 2018, according to Chinese University’s Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific. The desire to work and live in Greater Bay Area cities on the mainland – a new national drive for greater economic development – also received a lukewarm response, with only 6.5 per cent of respondents saying their willingness to work in Hong Kong and the bay area was the same. The circumstances and reasons for emigration vary across individuals and families. The changing political and economic situation in the wake of the social unrest and the Covid-19 epidemic have perhaps expedited decisions. The problem was flagged in another survey last month by the Federation of Youth Groups, in which a quarter of the city’s university-educated under-35s said they were planning to leave within the next five years. Hong Kong’s home buyers return as growth pace lifts confidence How many will eventually do so remains to be seen. But a controversial visa scheme offered by Britain has already attracted tens of thousands of applications over the past few months. Among those who have signed up and left are young couples with children. The brain drain is not the first in Hong Kong, as evidenced by the pre-handover exodus of the wealthy and professional. It is also not unusual for young people to venture overseas for wider exposure. Indeed, many have returned with knowledge and experience that can better help development, especially when the worries that drove them away no longer prevailed. It takes time for Hong Kong to overcome crises. The government should work harder to restore people’s confidence in the city’s future lest more opt to leave for good.