Hong Kong housing

High housing costs to blame for young Hongkongers’ unhappiness, survey finds

Survey finds young people in Hong Kong have difficulty moving out from home, causing conflict and social difficulties

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 7:40pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 11:08pm

Surging house prices and low marriage rates are ­responsible for young Hongkongers feeling less happy with their family well-being than their ­parents, researchers have found.

A survey carried out by Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Applied Social Science found housing problems are making it more difficult for local youths to move out from their parents, and this can lead to family conflicts, poor social skills and even mental health concerns.

Commissioned by the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society (HKFWS), the study interviewed 1,033 residents aged 15 or above who live with their families from January to March this year.

It measured their quality of life in five catagories: family interaction, parenting, emotional well-being, material well-being and overall family well-being.

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The survey showed that, on a scale from one to 100, Hong Kong scored 72 points on overall family well-being, lower than the United States on 85.

“More and more Hong Kong people tend to get married late, or are not getting married at all, meaning more adults are staying at home with their parents,” HKFWS social work consultant Wong King-lai said.

“But parents have a say in families, while younger people were looking for independence and trying to build up their own lifestyles. Surging house prices and limited housing resources also made it difficult to move out and [they are] unable to live on their own, which creates more family conflicts and affects their family well-being,” she said.

Respondents said they were most satisfied with their material well-being (77 points), although parenting scored the lowest (69 points) among the five catagories.

Family interaction scored 74, while emotional well-being scored 67.

Those aged from 20 to 29 had the lowest satisfaction on overall family well-being, with only 3.6 points on a scale from zero to five, according to the survey. People aged 15 to 19 are slightly happier at 3.62.

Those aged from 60 to 69 are the happiest and rated 4 points for overall family well-being.

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“Home is where we should feel secure and comfortable. If we could not feel loved and satisfied at home, it’s surely not good for our mental health,” Wong said.

Wong said young people who had regular conflicts with their families could have difficulties when handling relationship issues when they are older.

“It’s too early to say whether such dissatisfaction would drive the divorce rate, but our experience showed their social skills would be affected, given their unpleasant experiences with their families.”

HKFWS suggested the government enhance family-friendly policy by improving working conditions and create more job opportunities to ensure young people’s upward mobility.