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Young people in Hong Kong less happy than peers in Singapore even before protests: Survey

HONG KONG — Young people in Hong Kong were less happy than their peers in Singapore even before the extradition bill crisis cast a pall over the city, university researchers said on Tuesday (July 30) as they released results from a survey.

Hong Kong has been rocked by protests in recent weeks.

Hong Kong has been rocked by protests in recent weeks.

HONG KONG — Young people in Hong Kong were less happy than their peers in Singapore even before the extradition bill crisis cast a pall over the city, university researchers said on Tuesday (July 30) as they released results from a survey.

The Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences at City University surveyed more than 2,300 people aged 40 or below in Hong Kong and Singapore in the first half of the year. Local respondents scored 6.8 points out of 10 on a “happiness index” — lower than the 7.48 recorded in the Lion City.

Hong Kong’s figure was also down 0.14 points compared to a similar study conducted in 2015.

Professor Dennis Wong Sing-wing from the department noted the city’s happiness index had long been “not so high”, usually between 6.5 and 7.

But he predicted the figure could have dropped further if the study was done in early July as protests against the now-shelved extradition bill escalated.

The legislation would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China and other jurisdictions with which the city does not have an extradition agreement.

“If we had conducted the study recently, we estimate that the figure would have dipped to as low as 6.4 or 6.5,” Mr Wong said.

The study aimed to provide understanding of happiness and satisfaction with quality of life in 11 areas among younger people in both cities. The categories include political and social; housing, medical and health care; as well as law and order.

The average score in each area for Hong Kong was lower than that of Singapore.

The grade for housing was the worst, coming in at 3.87 for Hong Kong, compared to 7.31 in the city state.

Mr Wong noted the average living space per person in Hong Kong was 161 sq ft, similar to the size of a car park lot. To buy a small flat, young Hongkongers found they were shackled with a lifelong debt because of notoriously high property prices, while in Singapore the housing situation was better, he said.

Another aspect that Hongkongers graded poorly was in the political and social category, with 4.79 points – 2.36 lower than Singapore’s. But this rate was still higher than the 4.28 recorded locally in 2015.

At the time, Hong Kong was still reeling from the 79-day Occupy protests a year earlier that had brought parts of the city to a standstill.

Wong predicted if this year’s study was done on July 1, the political and social score for Hong Kong could plummet to between 3.5 and 3.7.

On a brighter note, Hong Kong’s young people appeared to be most satisfied in entertainment and leisure, posting 6.75 marks. This was followed by law and order, with a figure of 6.68.

“We were surprised initially,” Mr Wong said. “Police have earned some respect [in the last few years].”

But again, he pointed to the protests in recent weeks that had sparked a massive public backlash against police over their handling of demonstrators, acknowledging that the score could have dipped to around 4 if the survey was conducted recently. SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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Hong Kong protest Hong Kong Youth

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