The Population of Hong Kong

7 min read|Last Updated: September 14, 2021|

General Information About Hong Kong

Hong Kong was first placed under British control after the Qing Dynasty of China ceded Hong Kong Island at the conclusion of the First Opium War in 1842. The Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 was also ceded after the Second Opium War, and the New Territories followed in 1898. China regained control of Hong Kong in 1997 1997. As a special administrative region, Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.

Many years ago, Hong Kong was an area comprised of agricultural villages and had a low population. However, Hong Kong is today one of the world’s most significant financial centers. It is also one of the world’s largest exporters and importers. Hong Kong has a capitalistic economy characterized by free trade and low taxation. Hong Kong is also home to the largest concentration of individuals of high net worth of any location in the world. However, although Hong Kong can boast of the highest per capita incomes in the world, income inequality is rife there.

Hong Kong is a highly developed area which is the joint-fourth most developed in the world according to the UN Human Development Index. It is tied with Germany and only ranks behind Norway, Switzerland, and Ireland. Hong Kong’s residents also have among the highest life expectancies in the world. Hong Kong has a developed transportation network with some of the world’s highest-quality public transport. Hong Kong is ranked third in the Global Financial Centers Index and only trails behind New York City, United States, and London, United Kingdom. According the Index of Economic Freedom, Hong Kong is also home to the world’s freest economy.


Hong Kong’s General Demographics

There are many demographic features to be taken into account when one discusses the details of the population of Hong Kong. These features include population density, ethnicity, level of education obtained, health of the populace, and religious affiliation among other aspects.

Hong Kong’s current population of 7,473,498 people ranks it 104th in the world among all countries and dependencies today. According to the latest statistics released by the Census and Statistics Development, Hong Kong’s population is expected to be at approximately 8.72 million in 2031. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with an overall population density of almost 6,700 people per square kilometer. Hong Kong is therefore ranked fourth in the world in population density. In this statistic, it is only outranked by Macau, Monaco, and Singapore. Somewhat contradictorily, Hong Kong has one of the world’s lowest birth rates at 1.1 per woman of child-bearing age according to the latest statistics, far below the replacement rate of 2.1. It is estimated that 26.8% of the population will be aged 65 or older in 2033; this figure represents a significant increase from 12.1%, a figure which was recorded in 2005. Therefore, in can be concluded that Hong Kong is currently in a phase of low population growth and is expected to remain in one for the foreseeable future.

The latest statistics have projected the maximum population which can be successfully sustained in Hong Kong is 8.79 million. However, this figure is not necessarily accurate because it does not account for future technological or infrastructural developments. It also does not take the effects of any government policies which might have an impact upon Hong Kong’s population into account.

The most populous age bracket in Hong Kong is that of those who are between 50 and 54 years old. Over 9% of Hong Kong’s population are people between these ages. The median age of Hong Kong’s population is approximately 45; however, this figure is expected to increase in future years.


Hong Kong’s Ethnic Demographics

Ethnically, most people in Hong Kong today are Han Chinese. They comprise around 92% of the total population of Hong Kong. Of these, many can trace their lineage to China’s province of Guangdong. There are also many who trace their descent to other locations in Southern China as well as various other locations around the world. Of the remaining 8% of the population who are not of Chinese descent, the majority of them are of either Philippine or Indonesian descent. These people comprise approximately 4% of the current population of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong census does not categorize Han Chinese subgroups. However, the majority of Hong Kong residents of Chinese descent trace their ancestry to various parts of China: the Guangzhou, Siyi, and Chaoshan regions of the province of Guangdong; the province of Fujian; and the municipality of Shanghai. Most migrants from the Chaoshan region left for Hong Kong during a period spanning from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. On the other hand, the majority of migrants from Fujian only entered Hong Kong after 1978. Today, the major Chinese subethnic groups of Hong Kong include the Punti, Hakka, Cantonese, Taishanese, Hoklo, and Tanka. The Punti and Tanka are among the indigenous people of Hong Kong; the Cantonese and Taishanese, however, are not. Some, but not all, of the Hoklo and Hakka who live in Hong Kong today are indigenous people of Hong Kong.

People from Hong Kong typically refer to themselves by the Cantonese term Hèung Góng Yàhn. However, this term is not only applied to people of Chinese descent because of Hong Kong’s colonial history which has seen people from all over the world settle in Hong Kong.


Fertility, Marriage, and Life Expectancy in Hong Kong

The fertility rate of Hong Kong has seen a significant decline in recent years. At one point, Hong Kong’s fertility rate reached an all-time low of 927 children per 1,000 women. This figure was shockingly low because it was far below the replacement fertility level, which is 2,100 children per 1,000 women. At the end of the 20th century, Hong Kong’s birth rate was among the lowest in the world. However, the number of births in Hong Kong increased at a rapid rate during the years between 2001 and 2011. This increase was primarily due to the increase in the number of children who were born in Hong Kong to parents who were originally from mainland China. This practice came to an end in 2013 when it was banned by Hong Kong’s government.

Studies have been conducted to better understand Hong Kong’s low fertility rate. Although no consensus has been reached, some of the reasons for this decline which have been proposed such as the increased educational attainment of women, the later age of marriage among most people, a higher proportion of people who have never been married, and an increase in participation by women in the workforce of Hong Kong. Other factors have also played a role in lowering the fertility rate in Hong Kong. One such example is the fact that Hong Kong is today a completely urbanized area. For many people, the lifestyle of the modern urban area which often causes one to experience much pressure at work causes the amount of time and attention which can be used to raise children to decline. There are also concerns surrounding the living environment of Hong Kong as well as other practical constraints. These factors have caused the marriage rate of women who are of child-bearing age as well as the fertility rate of Hong Kong to remain low.

Another reason why Hong Kong has low marriage and fertility rates is the fact that many people from Hong Kong choose to get married and give birth in mainland China. This phenomenon lowers the marriage and fertility rates of Hong Kong because such births and marriages in mainland China are not defined as part of Hong Kong’s marriage and fertility rates. The latest statistics show that the marriage rate of both women and men in Hong Kong has severely declined; however, the decline for women is steeper than that of men.

Life expectancy at birth in Hong Kong has increased considerably over the years. For residents of Hong Kong, life expectancy at birth is approximately 82 among men and 88 among women. These figures are the highest in the world. Due to the current demographic trends involving the low fertility rate and high life expectancy, around a quarter of the population of Hong Kong is expected to be 65 years old or older in 2031. This increase will be especially noticeable among those who are at least 85 years old. In 2031, there are expected to be around 209,000 people who are 85 years old or older living in Hong Kong.

Population of Hong Kong FAQs

Why are parents from mainland China banned from giving birth in Hong Kong?2020-03-02T03:25:30+00:00

One of the reasons why parents from mainland China are forbidden from giving birth in Hong Kong is to prevent overcrowding in Hong Kong’s hospitals. Furthermore, because parents from mainland China who gave birth in Hong Kong were not Hong Kong taxpayers, they had been able to abuse Hong Kong’s tax system enjoy certain tax benefits.

Are there any positive outcomes which result from Hong Kong’s low fertility rate?2020-03-02T03:23:42+00:00

As has been mentioned, the population density of Hong Kong is very high. Therefore, although few ordinarily think of a low fertility rate as positive, this low fertility rate serves to protect Hong Kong from the damaging effects of overpopulation.

Why is Hong Kong’s life expectancy very high?2020-03-02T03:20:03+00:00

There are several factors which have contributed to Hong Kong’s high life expectancy. These include the availability of medical services, the government’s initiatives created to care for the country’s elderly, the well-planned neighborhoods, and the lifestyle of many which is conducive to longevity.

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