Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hong Kong's Weird Demography

Hong Kong's men are disappearing. The ratio of men to women has fallen from 1063 per thousand in 1993 (four years before the handover to China) to 912 men per thousand women today. They project that the ratio would plummet to 763:1000 by 2036, but surely there would be big changes before that gross imbalance were reached.

The number of unmarried young women has gone up dramatically. Hong Kong women are major players in Kay Hymowitz' "New Girl Order" that I wrote about yesterday. Single male numbers have gone up, too -- Hong Kong is a rich city for young singles. But the single women rate has gone up much faster than the bachelor rate. And Hong Kong men are much more likely to marry mainland women than Hong Kong women are likely to pair up with mainland men. This is ironic, since mainland China has a huge overhang of men compared to women. But Hong Kong women are much better educated and career oriented than mainland women, and less likely to be as subservient as mainland men normally want a wife to be.

The scariest number in Hong Kong demography is the fertility rate: 0.98 children per woman. Most industrialized countries are below the replacement rate of 2.1, but Hong Kong is the first (as far as I can tell) to fall below the one kid per woman threshold. No place can sustain a population pattern like that for long. The Hong Kong administrator wants to raise the fertility rate to 3 children per woman, which most people regard as wildly unrealistic.

The Hong Kong government offers no speculation as to where they men have gone. My guess is that the men have gone to the mainland. They are taking their world market savvy, honed in non-Communist Hong Kong, and are getting in on the ground floor of the booming post-Communist mainland economy. Odds are that those men will marry, but probably locally.


Jon said...

The info here is very interesting. Male rates could come from multiple causes: men are more often likely to emigrate for money (to Canada, SE Asia, etc., in addition to China) or women may be numerous in Hong Kong for another reason (more domestics from China than workers?). It would be interesting to find out.

When I taught in Taipei it was interesting to me that in the senior seminary class (about equal numbers of men and women) all the men were married, but only one of the 15 or so women was married. I think men from wealthy areas (Taiwan, HK) do have more choice than women, and mail order brides are much more common in Taiwan (from China and SE Asia). If women come from abroad, this would also raise the female: male ratio. Come to think of it, this may be the cause in HK: all the original women plus a large number of foreign brides.

Stushie said...

Even moreinteresting mainland China has 130men to every 100 women - I guess alot of Chinese mainlanders will be making their way to Hong Kong.