Ageing society

With more elderly households and people aged above 80, can Hong Kong cope with its greying population?

Latest government study also finds that more than 130,000 elderly people are still working, more than double the amount from 10 years ago

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 10:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 11:14pm

The number of Hongkongers aged 80 or above has increased by 67 per cent to more than 340,000, taking up a bigger proportion of the city’s total population compared with figures from a decade ago, according to a latest government report.

Published on Friday, the results were part of a citywide by-census conducted by the Census and Statistics Department in mid-2016. The findings highlighted the worrying trend of Hong Kong’s fast-ageing population.

The report also found in that year, 15.9 per cent of the city’s population of 7.4 million were aged 65 or older, compared with 12.4 per cent in 2006.

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Some 53 per cent of this group were aged 65 to 74, while 29.3 per cent – 340,249 people – were at least 80 years old. This represented 4.61 per cent of the total population, up from 2.96 per cent in 2006.

Data showed that more elderly citizens now live on their own or only with their spouses. For the first time, the number of elderly households exceeded 300,000, up from just 180,000 a decade ago.

“The pace of ageing has become faster in the past decade,” the report stated.

The pace of ageing has become faster in the past decade
Government report

The education level of the “new generation” of elderly people was improving – nearly 40 per cent had received secondary education or higher, compared with just 25 per cent in 2006.

But the higher education levels did not necessarily lead to earlier retirement.

More than 130,000 people among the elderly population – including 396 people aged 85 or above – were still working in 2016, more than double the amount from 10 years ago. One in three were in “elementary” jobs, and another third were managers and professionals.

As a result of the delayed retirement, the median monthly income of elderly-only households shot up by 77.1 per cent, from HK$3,400 (US$434) in 2006 to HK$6,020 in 2016.

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Some cash benefits from the government, such as the Old Age Living Allowance of HK$2,600 a month since April 2013, were also thought to have contributed to better earnings for such households.

A record 300,906 households were classified as elderly-only, meaning residents were either living alone or with their spouses, excluding domestic helpers. This was a 67.4 per cent surge compared with 2006.

The government has long warned of the economic impact from the city’s rapidly ageing population. Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po earmarked HK$3.5 billion this year for the provision of public services for the elderly, and analysts said they expected the amount to soar in the coming years.