Further to my previous articles on Degloblization, Decentralization and Decoupling, COVID is also speeding up Depopulation! It does not only causing a huge number of deaths, but it also pulling people to leave expensive and non-livable cities. Kelly and Lerman (2020) are telling the stories of people fleeing from the big cities of the US. Yet, the situation is particularly clear in Hong Kong, not just because of the pandemic, but because of the change of governance.
Today, Yip (2020) wrote an article in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, quoting the latest census data from the Census and Statistics Department, stating that the population of Hong Kong in mid-2020 was only 7,509,200, of which 49,500 were born and 48,900 died, 22,100 immigrants (moving in) and 20,900 emigrants (moving out). He believes that the data is a warning signal to the government - depopulation (population shrinkage)!
Regarding the forecast of population shrinkage, when I was interviewed by Mingpao Monthly in 2017, my statement was quoted as follows: “Three years ago, when the Population Policy Steering Committee issued a population policy consultation document, Professor Yiu had predicted that the population was shrinking: ‘At that time, I expected the population would start shrinking in 2037, because the baby boom generation will begin to die in large number, …. ” (Mingpao Monthly 2017)
Three years ago, the article also quoted the Census and Statistics Department’s population estimate that the population in 2024 will be as high as 7,755,800 (Figure 1), but this estimate seems to be overestimated again; even compared with the latest population estimate issued by the Census and Statistics Department in September 2017, The population in mid-2020 is still overestimated by almost 50,000 people (Figure 2).
When the article was published three years ago, most people believed that the population shrinking forecast was absolutely impossible. As the government has a daily quota of 150 and various talents admission schemes, how can the population shrink? But Paul Yip has already raised the following questions about the imported population: “When we talk about immigration, we must take into account the Pull factors and Push factors. It depends on the state of the entire social environment and whether the city is Livable?” (Mingpao Monthly, 2017)
In fact, in the past 15 years of 2018, the total number of places under the Five Types of Mainland Talents Program has been allocated to 231,116 people, of which the cumulative number of people who have obtained the right of abode has reached 24,983. (Yiu, 2019) However, with the major changes in Hong Kong’s legal system and the sanctions imposed by various countries, Hong Kong’s livability has been deteriorating, and various international rankings have fallen sharply. Hong Kong’s institutional advantages are being lost. These changes are qualitative and fundamental. Therefore, it is not likely to recover when the pandemic is gone. It is believed that it will produce a longer period of uncertainty and make it difficult to attract talents. This is exactly the worries about brain drain brought up by Yip’s article.
Today, Paul Yip reiterated that the population will shrink; firstly, the number of emigrants is increasing rapidly, secondly, the pandemic causes the death toll to rise, thirdly, an economic recession often leads to birth reduction, and fourthly, the loss of Hong Kong’s unique status also reduces the number of immigrants. All the pulling and pushing forces are advancing in the direction of an accelerated population shrinking.
Kelly, H. and Lerman, R. (2020) The pandemic is making people reconsider city living, trading traffic for chickens, The Washington Post, June 2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/06/01/city-relocate-pandemic/
Yip, P.S.F. 葉兆輝 (2020) 最新人口普查數據發出的警號，信報，8月25日。https://www1.hkej.com/dailynews/commentary/article/2561202/%E6%9C%80%E6%96%B0%E4%BA%BA%E5%8F%A3%E6%99%AE%E6%9F%A5%E6%95%B8%E6%93%9A%E7%99%BC%E5%87%BA%E7%9A%84%E8%AD%A6%E8%99%9F
Mingpao Monthly (2017)【2047倒數三十年】有增無減的人口政策，2047將見鬼城？明周，1月2日。https://www.mpweekly.com/culture/%e5%a7%9a%e6%9d%be%e7%82%8e-%e4%ba%ba%e5%8f%a3-%e8%80%81%e5%8c%96-18020
Yiu, C.Y. 姚松炎 (2019) 輸入內地人才計劃獲取居留權人數及預測，方格子，4月15日。https://vocus.cc/eyanalysispoliecon/5cb3fc99fd897800015c4bd7