Survey Findings on Views about Emigration from Hong Kong Released by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at CUHK
A telephone survey was conducted from 16 to 25 September 2021 by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), to gauge public views on Hong Kong people’s intention of emigrating to overseas or moving to mainland China. Through the survey 716 respondents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed, with response rates of 27.7% (landline) and 32.4% (mobile). The sampling error is plus or minus 3.66 percentage points, at a confidence level of 95%.
Major findings are summarized as follows:
The respondents were asked to rate Hong Kong’s livability on a scale from 0 (very unsuitable) to 100 (very suitable), with 50 indicating “in-between”. The current average rating from respondents for Hong Kong’s livability was 52.1. This years’ score is not only significantly higher than that of last year (49.6), but also reversed the declining trend observed since 2017.
Of the respondents who were successfully interviewed, 42.0% indicated they would emigrate if they had the chance. Of those who would like to move, 38.7% had acted to prepare to move (equivalent to 16.1% of the total number of respondents). Both percentages did not change significantly from those of last year.
Of those inclined to emigrate, except for the 14.8% who had not yet decided where they would move, the most popular destination was the United Kingdom (26.1%), followed by Canada (14.0%), Australia (11.0%), and Taiwan (7.5%).
Aggregated and sorted from open answers of the respondents, the top four push factors for respondents intending to move were: “undemocratic political system in Hong Kong/decreasing democracy in Hong Kong/no more democratic elections” (24.0%), “dissatisfied with SAR government, the chief executive, senior officials or government policies” (21.3%), “excessive political dispute/social cleavage” (20.2%), “collapsing liberty, human rights or freedom of information” (19.4%). The top four pull factors were: “more liberty and better conditions for human rights” (22.1%), “ample living space” (18.4%), “democratic political systems” (17.5%) and “relaxed conditions of immigration for Hongkongers/the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa Route to UK” (16.3%).
When asked to estimate emigration in the forthcoming year, over half (51.1%) expected a rise in numbers, while 29.9% did not expect any change. Only a tenth (9.9%) suggested a drop in numbers. Around half of the respondents (48.8%) reckoned that the current “tidal emigration” is a loss to the long-term development of Hong Kong, while a fourth (24.7%) did not see any impact. Only 13.4% had a positive outlook.
The survey also asked respondents’ intention to move to Mainland China. Over a tenth (11.6%) of all respondents said yes, higher than last year though only slightly. Among them, the top four push factors were: “high-flying housing prices” (21.0%), “cramped living space” (18.1%), “excessive consumer prices” (16.4%), and “poor economic prospects/no economic future” (13.8%). The top four pull factors from Mainland China were: “ample living space” (31.2%), “brighter economic prospect” (26.4%), “affordable housing prices/easier to own a residence” (25.7%), and “more opportunities for employment” (8.6%).