Chief Executive Carrie Lam has dismissed the notion that Hong Kong’s ageing population is a major social problem, saying the SAR can always adjust its demographics by moving people across the border.
During a brief question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council on Wednesday, lawmaker Jimmy Ng asked for solutions to tackle what he called Hong Kong's "super-ageing population" and low birth rate. He cited Beijing’s announcement this week that it will allow married couples to have as many as three children.
But the CE said in response that the SAR’s demographic situation is not a cause for major concern.
"If we close the door and work on our population policy, that's hard. But if we make this city, with a population of 7.5 million, part of the country's 1.4 billion people, I won't be too worried about our demographics," Lam said.
One plausible solution, she said, would be to encourage elderly Hong Kong people to retire across the border, and to attract young talents from the mainland and overseas to move to the SAR.
"Many of our elderly people are receiving old age living allowance and living in the Greater Bay Area… if our welfare policies make it more convenient for them to spend their post-retirement years comfortably and stably in mainland cities nearby, this would change our demographics," Lam said.
Meanwhile, the CE said whether Hongkongers decide to have babies is their “personal choice”, adding that most of her government’s policies do not discourage people from having large families.
A study for the Office of the Government Economist in 2019 predicted that the proportion of elderly people in Hong Kong's population would almost double, from 17.9 percent in 2018 to 31.9 percent in 2038.