Low wages, tax curb Bay moves

Local | Maisy Mok 25 Jan 2021

Low wages, internet restrictions and high tax rates in the Greater Bay Area are the major worries that deter young Hongkongers from going there, a Lingnan University survey has found.

Its School of Graduate Studies' survey of 1,028 people aged 18 to 35 found a "relatively neutral position" among respondents when asked whether they would consider moving to the Greater Bay Area to live and work, with an average score of 2.5.

High-income groups (HK$30,000 or more) scored the highest with 2.74. The poll, taken between March 25 and April 1, 2019, sought scores of one to five, with one being strongly disagree and five being strongly agree.

Worries about low pay in the area was a concern for all income groups.

This was followed by constraints on using the internet and high income tax in the mainland.

The survey also found that psychological distance definitely reduced people's intention to move to the Greater Bay Area.

Alex Zhu Yuefeng, a Lingnan research assistant professor, said: "Uncertainty about the GBA's future produces a sense of temporal distance: the border control between the mainland and Hong Kong creates a sense of spatial distance, and the different institutional arrangements and lifestyles of the two regions lead to social distance, which inevitably reduces positivity and any intention to move to the GBA."

The research team pointed to an urgent need for policymakers to raise public awareness of the area's positive aspects and its future development.

"We highly recommend field visits and face-to-face exchanges between high-income individuals in Hong Kong and GBA cities as the high-income group was more interested in visiting the GBA," said Joshua Mok Ka-ho, the Lingnan vice-president who led the study.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong that took in 312 people aged 18 to 35 found 77.9 percent of respondents would consider joining the Greater Bay Area youth employment scheme.

The scheme was among measures announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in last year's policy address. It aims to encourage and support young people to pursue their careers in the GBA and offers a monthly allowance of HK$10,000 to enterprises for each graduate employed for up to 18 months.

The survey conducted between January 4 and 20 showed 69.3 percent found a wage of HK$18,000 to HK$26,000, while 60.6 percent deemed an 18-month allowance to be attractive.

But most thought the 2,000 places provided by the scheme were not enough and that the scheme would be insufficient in focusing mainly on university graduates and posts in innovation and technology.

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