Hong Kong population declines for third year straight

In three years, the population of Hong Kong has fallen by 187,000. The population has reached 7.3 million as more than 140,000 workers have left the SAR.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By ZHANG Xilong


The population of Hong Kong fell by 0.9 percent last year, the third consecutive year in which the population has fallen. Lowering birth rate and exodus of workers are the main reason behind the decline to 7.3 million.

“Cross-border travel was interrupted last year because of the Covid situation,” a spokesman of the Hong Kong SAR government said. “We’ve only seen population rise since the end of 2022, after restrictions were lifted.”

High cost of aging

Over the past three years, the population of Hong Kong shrank by 187,300. In his first policy address, Chief Executive of Hong Kong John Lee said over 140,000 workers had left Hong Kong.

Before 2020, around 6,000 people left for other countries each year. But by 2021, that number had risen to 14,700.

“Hong Kong’s birth rate is the lowest in Asia,” the spokesman said. Last year, there were only 32,500 live births, a dramatic decline from 52,900 in 2019, and the lowest since 1961. In a 2021 survey, 56 percent of participants said they didn’t want children, primarily because of the high cost of housing and education.

This has led to aging problems. In 2021, a fifth of the city’s population is over 65. In 1991, it was less than 10 percent.

Recruitment program

There are numerous job vacancies in the SAR. Civil aviation, education, finance and retail all reported shortages of workers last year.

The government has launched a talent program to recruit at least 35,000 workers from outside the city every year. Chris Sun, secretary for labor and welfare, expects the labor shortage to lessen in the months ahead.

Sun said more than 10,000 people had applied for the program in the first seven weeks, more than half below the age of 30.