Hong Kong fact of the day

by on March 22, 2016 at 2:56 am in Economics | Permalink

Seventy-six per cent of Hongkongers aged 18-35 are still living with their parents, according to the Urban Research Group of City University of Hong Kong, despite an unemployment rate of just 3 per cent.

That is almost twice the level of the US, the UK or France.

According to the FT piece, many married couples still live separately, and with their parents.

1 So Much For Subtlety March 22, 2016 at 3:36 am

According to the FT piece, many married couples still live separately, and with their parents.

They time share? Move back for the weekend?

You mean husband and wife live separately with their respective parents? No wonder HK has the lowest birth rate in the world.

2 JWatts March 22, 2016 at 12:01 pm

I suspect this is a very unusual case and no where close to the norm. It would be nice to see some statistical data.

3 Jay March 22, 2016 at 7:32 pm

I agree with JWatts, I’m suspect anytime an article says “some say…” or “many this or that still….” without attaching any numbers or citations.

4 Rainer March 22, 2016 at 3:54 am

Can imagine similar figures for italy. given rents and other housing related costs this is just efficient. this development is, however, not new in human history. i would rather say moving out of the parents home is a rather modern (also ideological) development boosted by high incomes and low living costs.

5 Careless March 22, 2016 at 3:55 am

High population density has consequences? Shocked!

6 Moreno Klaus March 22, 2016 at 9:00 am

True. But it is not only about the economics, it is definitely also cultural… “They have a duty to take care of the elderly”.

7 Cliff March 22, 2016 at 9:31 am

That seems like it would more affect those over this age band.

8 Moreno Klaus March 22, 2016 at 11:20 am

I have a friend of mine of Asian origin over 30 and living with his parents…

9 Cliff March 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm


10 Floccina March 22, 2016 at 11:49 am

In Manhattan and elsewhere, housing prices have soared over the 1990s. Rising incomes, lower interest rates, and other factors can explain the demand side of this increase, but some sluggishness on the supply of apartment buildings also is needed to account for the high and rising prices. In a market dominated by high rises, the marginal cost of supplying more space is reflected in the cost of adding an extra floor to any new building. Home building is a highly competitive industry with almost no natural barriers to entry, yet prices in Manhattan currently appear to be more than twice their supply costs. We argue that land use restrictions are the natural explanation of this gap. We also present evidence consistent with our hypothesis that regulation is constraining the supply of housing so that increased demand leads to much higher prices, not many more units, in a number of other high price housing markets across the country.

11 JWatts March 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm

“yet prices in Manhattan currently appear to be more than twice their supply costs. We argue that land use restrictions are the natural explanation of this gap. ”

This seems the likely explanation.

“Median prices last year — which may represent a peak — were 19 times gross income,”

This would seem to indicate a very high demand and a very restricted supply of high rise condos.

12 Jazi Zilber March 22, 2016 at 4:45 am

The cost of rent is horrendous. This is central.

Also note people living in extremely tiny rooms.

13 Steve Sailer March 22, 2016 at 4:49 am

Anglo-Saxons tend to prefer what French sociologist Emmanuel Todd calls Todd calls the “absolute nuclear family:”

1. Absolute Nuclear Family:
a. Spouse selection: Free, but obligatory exogamy.
b. Inheritance: Indifference – no precise rules, frequent use of wills.
c. Family Home: no cohabitation of married children with their parents.
d. Representative Nations, Peoples, Regions: Anglo-Saxon world, Holland, Denmark.
e. Representative Ideology: Christianity, Capitalism, `Libertarian’ Liberalism, and Feminism.

For example, being an empty nester is a popular goal in Anglo-Saxon cultures, while striking lots of other peoples as sad and lonely.

All this ties into Tory Cabinet minister David Willetts’ portrait of the Deep Structure of being English:

“Instead, think of England as being like this for at least 750 years. We live in small families. We buy and sell houses. … Our parents expect us to leave home for paid work …You try to save up some money from your wages so that you can afford to get married. … You can choose your spouse … It takes a long time to build up some savings from your work and find the right person with whom to settle down, so marriage comes quite lately, possibly in your late twenties. ”

The long-standing English aversion to arranged marriages reflects this distinction. It’s noteworthy that Shakespeare and his English audience sided with Romeo and Juliet against their kinfolk. Willetts theorizes:
“A small, simple family structure not driven by the need to pass on an inheritance or to sustain ties with brothers and cousins in a clan can be more personal, intense, and emotional—a clue to England’s Romantic tradition.”

Willetts points out that most other languages have “specific words for particular types of uncles, grandparents, and cousins”, but the English apparently never needed to develop these terms. As far back as 1014, he says, Bishop Wulfstan of London “expressed regret that vendettas were not what they used to be as family members just would not join in”. (In contrast, the more clannish Scots kept alive kin-spirit, transmitting it down to their Scots-Irish descendants, such as the Hatfields and McCoys who waged a famous feud in Appalachia.)

14 So Much For Subtlety March 22, 2016 at 5:00 am

c. Family Home: no cohabitation of married children with their parents.

Traditionally the Chinese have done the exact opposite of virtually all of these. So the question is why have they abandoned at least part of their own tradition for part of the British? After all, why don’t the couple live with the husband’s parents? They will produce the husband’s parents’ grandchildren after all.

15 david March 22, 2016 at 6:05 am

the British don’t have a monopoly on nuclear families. Han dynasty society was nuclear. Tang society was patrilineal. Both exhibit “Chineseness”. The nationalist May 4th movement exhibited duelling arguments whether nuclear families were more authentically Chinese (rejecting Tang society as a Buddhist foreign influence) or whether small families were just a Western imitation. In any case, the former won.

contemporary Chinese nuclear families date to the ideologica triumph of the May 4th movement in the cities and spread into the countryside by the cultural revolution.

16 Nathan W March 22, 2016 at 5:10 am

Some languages, as practiced, go in the opposite direction of having many specific words for all forms of extended relations, just referring to all male relatives as brothers and all female relatives as sisters – even if the words exist to specify more detail. In a fair number of places I’ve met people who introduced their companion as a brother or sister, only to find out that they were not related at all, but rather were close friends. Yeah, I know in the West people might say “he’s like a brother to me”, but that’s not at all the same as saying “meet Joe, he’s my brother.” In some cases, this is due to limited foreign language skills (in both directions), but definitely not always.

Different notions on family concepts definitely abound.

17 Millian March 22, 2016 at 5:52 am

Englishmen did not buy and sell houses in the 1200s, they were still living in feudal relationships with their lieges. The Romeo and Juliet tale was from Italy. I can’t believe I am even engaging with iRacialist’s just-so stories, but whatever.

18 Andrew Flicker March 22, 2016 at 9:22 am

Is that true, Millian? There were certainly large and powerful London guilds in the 13th century- they can’t have all been helpless liege-vassals.

19 JWatts March 22, 2016 at 1:15 pm

“There were certainly large and powerful London guilds in the 13th century- they can’t have all been helpless liege-vassals.”

Actually, it’s pretty irrelevant.

Romeo and Juliet was an English play written in London around 1600. There was a thriving middle class in London at the time. The setting was certainly Italian, but it wasn’t meant to be a documentary of 14th century Italian life. It was targeted at a 16th/17th century English audience.

20 chuck martel March 22, 2016 at 6:01 am

The culmination of what you’re describing is Sun City, AZ.

21 Ray Lopez March 22, 2016 at 11:16 am

When I imagine SS married, I imagine him like Newt Gingrich, and having an ‘open marriage’. Complete sleazeball, but logically consistent in that he can truthfully say he’s never had an affair (since an open marriage by definition cannot have an affair).

22 Jan March 22, 2016 at 5:46 am

Family values. Culture. Filial duty.

23 AIG March 22, 2016 at 6:05 am

$4,000/month rent for a closet…

Yeah, right.

24 Ronald Brak March 22, 2016 at 7:26 am

They should come to Australia. Rent is much cheaper. And here are some pictures of the sort of homes that one million Australian dollars or $760,000 US can buy you in Sydney:


25 AIG March 22, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Nothing impressive. Check out what $1 million – $750,000 can buy you in the Houston or Dallas metro area. Puts Sydney to shame.

26 spencer March 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Still, in Houston or Dallas only a very small share of the population can afford a $1million-$750,000

What share of the population can afford a $760,000 house in Sydney?

27 carlolspln March 22, 2016 at 5:50 pm

I don’t believe you grokked Ronald Brak’s irony.

28 AIG March 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm

“Still, in Houston or Dallas only a very small share of the population can afford a $1million-$750,000 house.
What share of the population can afford a $760,000 house in Sydney?”

Can afford, is a term that needs definition. % of income spend on housing would be more appropriate.

In Houston or Dallas people may spend 10-20% of their income on housing, while in Syndey (or NYC, or SF), they may spend 40-60% of their income on housing. Can someone who is spending 40-60% of their income on housing, really “afford” it?

GDP per capita in Houston or Dallas is way higher than Sydney.

Houston GDP/capita is ~$81,000
DFW GDP/capita is ~$66,000
Sydney GDP/capita is ~$65,000

PPP adjusted, Houston and DFW are way way higher than Sydney.

That same house in Sydney would cost at most $300k in Houston or DFW.

29 AIG March 22, 2016 at 5:59 pm

“I don’t believe you grokked Ronald Brak’s irony.”

Apparently, I did not.

30 Jan March 22, 2016 at 8:32 pm

@AIG yeah, but then you have to live in Houston or Dallas…

31 Ronald Brak March 22, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Yeah, sorry, I was actually making a point about how expensive Sydney houses are. The median cost of a home in Sydney is now one million Australian ($760,000 US). I’ll give a link to a picture of a million dollar home that makes the extreme cost extremely clear.


32 Ronald Brak March 22, 2016 at 11:15 pm

And here’s a nice little place that can be yours for a cool million. It has character!


33 AIG March 23, 2016 at 12:22 am

“@AIG yeah, but then you have to live in Houston or Dallas”

I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

34 AIG March 23, 2016 at 12:24 am

Sorry Ronald, I did indeed miss your point.

Yeah that’s crazy expensive. Those kind of houses would go for about $100k in most US cities. Or less.

35 Jan March 22, 2016 at 9:33 am


36 Miguel Madeira March 22, 2016 at 7:34 am

“Seventy-six per cent of Hongkongers aged 18-35”

I don’t know if makes much sense to have a category defined as “aged 18-35”; at least in Portugal you will be joining age ranges where almost everybody lives with the parents (18-25) with age ranges where almost nobody lives with the parents (30-35).

37 Moreno Klaus March 22, 2016 at 8:58 am

Good Point. Although the “almost everybody” is strictly for people living in Greater Lisbon, Porto or Coimbra, because for the rest they have to move somewhere to study in a decent university.

38 Miguel Madeira March 22, 2016 at 9:37 am

Yes, you are right; I was simply counting the college students as “living with the parents” (after all, usually are the parents who pay their rent – and food, clothes, tuition, nightclubs, etc.), even if they not live physically with the parents.

39 Andao March 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm

In the article, they do compare other countries so the discrepancy should cancel out. The rate in HK is still more than 2x higher than in the US

40 rayward March 22, 2016 at 7:38 am

I work in a Sunbelt city which, like Hong Kong, has a hot and humid climate. We have lots of high rises, office buildings and residential buildings, but not nearly as many as in Hong Kong (a much, much larger city). My office mate and I call them ice boxes, the inhabitants sequestered from the heat and humidity outside. I understand that hongkongers are more likely to spend time outside their ice boxes, but I suspect that, in time, they will become less acclimated to the heat and humidity outside and, like their counterparts in my city, will spend more time in their ice boxes. What will be the social consequences? What will be the economic consequences? What will be the marriage consequences? What will be the consequences if the ice boxes don’t work anymore? Cars are convenient but stupid (if for no other reason than they are a highly inefficient way to transport people from place to place and are dangerous). Ice boxes are comfortable but stupid (human beings – troglodytes – left the caves thousands of years ago). What, exactly, is progress?

41 Andao March 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Actually, we prefer to stay in ice boxes as well, but no one can afford a car, so we’re stuck sweating it out on the street

42 collin March 22, 2016 at 9:16 am

I still argue we have an Aggregate Demand global problem but not in the old Keynesian sense. We have a AD problem by decreasing population size which limits consumption totals.

Or maybe the globe has AS because families no longer are willing to supply new babies.

43 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly March 22, 2016 at 10:11 am

Do they “still live with their parents,” or do their parents live with them?

The distinction is not trivial.

44 Careless March 22, 2016 at 1:52 pm

At 18-35? Their parents aren’t that old

45 Will March 22, 2016 at 2:04 pm

I’m 29 and my fiancee’s father lives with us. I had the same thought as (Not That) Bill O’Reilly.

46 Jan March 22, 2016 at 8:35 pm

You’re getting hosed. He’s getting housed.

47 Floccina March 22, 2016 at 12:11 pm

If you get Married early your parents do not need much care until you have been Married for a 20 or 30 years.

48 TheAJ March 22, 2016 at 12:21 pm

You move out of your parents home if you are moving to a different part of the country. I moved from California to New York. What’s the point of getting a new place down the street?

49 JWatts March 22, 2016 at 1:20 pm

“What’s the point of getting a new place down the street?”

Family support, baby sitting and building connections with the extended family.

50 jdgalt March 22, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Throughout human history up to 1871 (when Bismarck created the first welfare state), everyone lived in multi-generation families because your children were the only people you could expect to support you when you became too old and sick to work. Thus, the nuclear family is a direct result of the welfare state and probably cannot exist without it.

I’m astounded at the large percentage of the freedom movement who fail to understand this fact. If we’re not willing to give up the faux “independence” of the nuclear family, then we might as well forget the whole idea of cutting back and eventually abolishing the welfare state, because we can’t have our cake and eat it too.

51 AIG March 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm

“we might as well forget the whole idea of cutting back and eventually abolishing the welfare state, because we can’t have our cake and eat it too.”

In a way you’re right, or for many people you may be right. But the “welfare state” is probably not the main factor at play here. That paltry SS check isn’t the reason your parents don’t need your help.

The huge increases in income and wealth compared to previous generations, however, is a good reason. I don’t need to take care of my parents since they have 30x my wealth accumulated in retirement savings and assets. So, much more than “welfare state”, its the fact that most retired people are actually…incredibly wealthy…compared to previous generations.

52 JFA March 22, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Okay… so what… is this different than five years ago? 10 years? 20? I surprised (or not really) to see much commentary on a non-contextualized number.

53 Effem March 22, 2016 at 12:39 pm

We will look back one day and wonder why on earth we let global real estate become a lightly-taxed, highly speculative, financial instrument. Great for a few, damaging for the system.

54 JWatts March 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm

That doesn’t seem to be the inherent problem here. Clearly, Hong Kong developers aren’t building out enough high rise condominiums. It looks like there is plenty of demand and profit, so it seems more likely to be a regulation issue. That’s speculation and I’m open to anyone suggesting other reasons that the market isn’t responding to such profitable demand.

55 Cooper March 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm

In 1962, there were 119,000 live births in the city of Hong Kong.

Last year there were only 62,000.

The city will not survive in its current form if this trend continues.

56 JWatts March 22, 2016 at 1:27 pm

According to Wiki, Hong Kong still has more births than deaths and the population is still growing. So, it’s a stable structure assuming that the average working age can keep rising.


57 Andao March 22, 2016 at 1:58 pm

150 mainland Chinese emigrate (legally) to Hong Kong every day. Currently they make up over 10% of the population


58 The Original D March 22, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Hasn’t this always been true of China? My ex is Chinese and she said it was rare for single people to move out before marriage.

59 AIG March 22, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Yes, but income plays a role here. In rich countries, people don’t live with their parents. No one wants to live with their parents, or God forbid, their in-laws.

HK is an outlier in this case due to the high cost of living.

60 The Original D March 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm

No one wants to live with their parents, or God forbid, their in-laws.

Tell that to my ex. Less than six months after marriage her mother moved in with us for over a year (we thought we would be having a baby). That seemed very common in the Chinese expat community in the Denver area.

At first I really hated it but I came to like the authentic Chinese food my mother in law cooked us every evening. My ex was a great cook too. The food is what I miss most about our marriage.

61 AIG March 23, 2016 at 12:25 am

And that’s why, you never marry a Chinese girl.

62 Dogmatiste2020 March 22, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Our cultural elites celebrate crowded cities and want them even more crowded. Why? You got me. But they do. And right now, the cultural elites are winning the cultural war. My students all want to live in just four American cities. If they don’t get there, they consider themselves utter losers.
It’s just bizarre, given that the Internet is letting us work further and further away from each other.

63 AIG March 22, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Did you think that maybe its not “cultural elites” bla bla bla…but simply the universal and timeless fact that young people, like your students, prefer crowded cities at that AGE. When they grow older, get married, have families etc, they too will move out to the suburbs.

I too, when I was their age, wanted to live in those cities. Now, I don’t even want to think about visiting them, nevermind live there.

You’re confusing a universal constant that has to do with life stages, for a nefarious plot by the evil “elite/establishment/globalists/Juice/Mesicans/liberals/communists” etc.

64 dux.ie March 22, 2016 at 8:02 pm

It is the culture.


“Chinese Han people in Beijing traditionally commonly lived with the whole family in large houses that were rectangular in shape. This house is called a siheyuan. These houses had four rooms in the front: the guest room, kitchen, lavatory, and servants’ quarters. Across the large double doors was a wing for the elderly in the family. This wing consisted of three rooms, a central room where the four tablets, heaven, earth, ancestor, and teacher, were worshipped. There the two rooms attached to the left and right were bedrooms for the grandparents. The east wing of the house was inhabited by the eldest son and his family, while the west wing sheltered the second son and his family. Each wing had a veranda, some had a “sunroom” made from a surrounding fabric supported by a wooden or bamboo frame. Every wing is also built around a central courtyard used for study, exercise, or nature viewing.”

65 AIG March 23, 2016 at 12:28 am

Hmm, that was the “culture” in every part of the world. So “culture” is the wrong answer.

We call some parts of the world, developed, because they developed the ability to move away from their parent’s basement.

66 dux.ie March 23, 2016 at 3:53 am


“Culture (/ˈkʌltʃər/) is, in the words of E.B. Tylor, “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

67 agm March 23, 2016 at 1:13 am

“That is almost twice the level of the US, the UK or France.”

For now.

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