Hong Kong has come up with a novel way to deal with the rising costs of an ageing population and a shortage of land: relocate some of its elderly across the border to the Mainland. Cathy Yang reports.
It’s never easy living your twilight years on your own. In a city such as Hong Kong, it’s not any easier being forced to move somewhere further away just to get proper space, care and attention. As it stands, the waiting list in Hong Kong for residential care for the elderly is growing longer, and many of them don’t even see the day to live in a proper home.
In Sham Shui Po, where majority of Hong Kong’s elderly reside, many end up waiting under a bridge just before sundown for free dinner boxes from charitable groups. Hong Kong has one of the highest elderly poverty rates in the developed world, and the city government is under pressure to provide residential home care for nearly 30,000 elderly people.
Hong Kong elderly relocated to Mainland to help with costsHong Kong has come up with a novel way to deal with the rising costs of an ageing population and a shortage of land: relocate some of its elderly across the border to the Mainland. Cathy Yang reports.
Hong Kong’s shortage of space has only worsened the problem, as it’s driven up property prices, making it more difficult for the elderly to afford decent home care in the city. The government’s come up with a novel, yet controversial idea: move some of the elderly to neighboring Mainland provinces.
One such province is the nearby Guangdong province. The take-up of Mainland residential places by Hong Kong residents has so far been relatively low. However, with the first applications of this cross-border scheme scheduled for processing from next month, the city government is hopeful the scheme will work to relieve the congestion.
Eighty-two year old Kwok Chin Yin is not convinced about the plan. Born in the Mainland, he made his fortune in Hong Kong when he moved here in 1981. Mr. Kwok bought this home for 25,000 U.S. dollars in 1983 and raised four sons there with his wife, who passed away a few years ago.
The government is handing out incentives to persuade elderly folks such as Mr. Kwok to make the move. However, social workers are convinced the better option is not relocation, but improving community care services.
For now, Mr. Kwok is content receiving a monthly stipend of about 300 U.S. dollars from the Hong Kong government. It’s not much, but it’s being in a familiar place, in the company of friends and family that matter most to him now, in the twilight years of his life.
Wang Lei, Professor of Law School at Peking University talks more about Hong Kong’s political situation.