Study Buddy (Explorer): 1 in 5 Hong Kong families unhappy with mothers suffering more, survey on happiness shows

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  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] A survey revealed in May that one in five Hong Kong families felt unhappy, with mothers suffering more than fathers. It also found that the overall happiness index of households dropped this year because of the city’s fifth Covid-19 wave.

[2] The survey was launched by the happiness advocacy platform HK.WeCARE of Wofoo Social Enterprises and the Lee Kum Kee Family Foundation. A total of 1,633 people were interviewed via online questionnaires between March and April this year. Results showed that 81.1 per cent of them scored six and above on a scale of zero to 10 on family happiness.

[3] Overall, the city’s family happiness index stood at 6.98, the lowest since 2019, compared to 7.26 in 2021. “An index of six and above indicates positive. Overall, Hong Kong families fared well, but one-fifth of families were unhappy,” said Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, an adviser to the survey conducted by researchers from Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Tung Wah College. Shek is chair professor of PolyU’s department of applied social sciences. He said the decline this year was mainly a result of the fifth wave: “The worse the pandemic was, the more unhappy the families became.”

[4] Professor Simon Lam Ching is an associate dean of research of Tung Wah College’s school of nursing and one of the survey researchers. Ching said the team looked into a variety of factors to measure family happiness. Apart from the pandemic, family happiness was mainly affected by factors including personal happiness, family solidarity, physical health, and resources such as income.

[5] The survey recorded a personal happiness index of 6.59 this year, down from 6.81 in 2021 and 6.76 in 2019. One in four respondents scored below six and felt unhappy. Married people were generally happier than those who were single, in a relationship, divorced or widowed. Parents felt happier than non-parents, according to the survey. The researchers also found people with a higher income felt happier personally and in a family than those who were less well-off.

[6] Mothers were found to be affected more negatively by Covid-19 than fathers, scoring lower in categories such as family and personal happiness, family solidarity, and household resources. They also scored significantly worse in the category of perceived financial difficulties amid the pandemic. Mothers scored 6.04 out of 10 on the negative impact of Covid-19 on the family, compared to 5.36 for fathers.

[7] Shek said the finding was consistent with the situation before the pandemic, but the public health crisis made it worse. “Mothers were normally found to be more unhappy than fathers as the former usually shouldered more household responsibilities and contributed more to a family than the latter who were more detached, but the pandemic aggravated that,” he said.

[8] Shek suggested supporting low-income households through services such as educating parents to help them better cope with stress amid the pandemic. He also urged the government to provide more assistance for these families.

Source: South China Morning Post, May 12


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. What reason is given in paragraph 1 for the decrease in the overall happiness index of Hong Kong households this year?

2. How were the interviews conducted according to paragraph 2?
A. in person
B. using the internet
C. at the Lee Kum Kee Family Foundation
D. none of the above

3. Fill in the table using information from paragraphs 3 and 5.

4. According to paragraph 3, what was the link between Covid-19 and the happiness index of families?

5. Read paragraphs 4 and 5, and decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given. (4 marks)
(i) Physical health plays a part in determining the level of family happiness.
(ii) Single women said they were happier compared to single men.
(iii) There was no difference in the happiness levels of people who earned more and those who were less well-off.
(iv) Married couples with children reported a lower level of happiness compared to those without.

6. In which of the following categories do mothers score lower than fathers according to paragraph 6?
A. family solidarity
B. household resources
C. personal happiness
D. all of the above

7. Find a word in paragraph 6 meaning “an interpretation of something”.

8. According to paragraph 7, what has the pandemic made worse?

9. According to Shek, what are ways to support the city’s low-income families? (2 marks)

Researchers found that those with higher incomes felt happier than those who were less well-off. Photo: Dickson Lee


1. Hong Kong’s fifth Covid-19 wave

2. B

3. Hong Kong’s family happiness index: 2022: 6.98; 2021: 7.26

Hong Kong’s personal happiness index: 2022: 6.59; 2021: 6.81

4. the worse the pandemic was, the more unhappy families became

5. (i) T; (ii) NG; (iii) F; (iv) F

6. D

7. perceived

8. the household responsibilities and contributions of mothers compared to fathers

9. parental education to enable them to better cope with stress amid the pandemic; more government assistance

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