A study has found that Hong Kong’s quality of life has dropped to its lowest level since 2003. Among the issues examined were housing, freedom of speech and noise pollution.
According to the study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the score went down from 102.95 in 2014 to 101.83 last year. The overall score has lowered for the second consecutive year.
The study, which looked at data from the government and related institutions as well as responses from 1,000 Hongkongers in August, looked at 23 different areas, including health, culture, leisure, the economy and the environment. It found that homes in the city was the least affordable it has been since the index began in 2003.
“The major contributing factor [to the fall in the economic sub-index] is the [housing] affordability ratio,” Chinese University associate professor of economics Terence Chong Tai-leung said. “It’s unlikely that housing prices will fall in the near future.”
The survey also found that freedom of speech index was at its lowest point, and while the score for noise pollution was worse, the air quality score rose to its best ever. Some other areas also improved, like life expectancy at birth, stress levels, and general life satisfaction.
Young Post junior reporter Clement O’Young, 15, from Sha Tin College disagreed with the study over the air quality score. This is, he says, because of an increase in traffic on the roads and the power plants along the Pearl River Delta.
“I don’t think the air quality in the city gets any better. Sometimes the smog can be very serious. I remember when Typhoon Megi was near the city in late September, and the Air Quality Health Index hit ‘serious levels’ for two days in a row. Perhaps the study was conducted in August when the respondents didn’t see how severe the air pollution is,” says Clement. He wants the government to build more pedestrian and tram green zones in the city centres, like Central, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay.
Shahryar Naeem, 18, from the University of Hong Kong, told Young Post that young people are frustrated as it is almost impossible to afford housing in the city. He is also concerned that Hongkongers seem to to have more and more restrictions on what they can and can’t say.
“Take the recent oath taking saga for example, with the Hong Kong’s government turning so freely to China over its view on what constitutes a proper oath, despite the fact that a large number of HongKongers are furious about this, as this is a local affair and should be handled within the local courts. Not having one’s voice heard means you can’t really say you have a decent quality of life,” said Shahryar.
Junior reporter Tacye Hong, 18, from University of Toronto also thought that freedom of speech in the 852 is more restricted than ever.
“The fight for [our ability to have] complete freedom of speech seems such a long battle. For example, some secondary schools won’t allow certain topics – like localism – to be discussed.”
The composite index was developed to give policy makers and the public a reference to measure and keep track of the quality of life in Hong Kong in the 21st century. It was also created in the hopes that the study would draw attention to quality of life issues in the city.