Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The number of unmarried Hong Kong women living on their own has jumped 43.8 per cent in five years because of the trend among local men to marry mainlanders. According to a University of Hong Kong census, released yesterday, 182,648 women are living alone, compared with 127,001 in 2001 and 103,938 in 1996. The number of lone men has increased just 14.1 per cent, to 185,005, since 2001.
University of Hong Kong statistician Paul Yip Siu-fai said the increasingly large number of Hong Kong men marrying mainlanders has balanced the amount of single men and women. But adds "The imbalance is likely to grow further in the near future".
Last year, about 28,000 Hong Kong men married mainland women, an increase of more than 80 per cent on 2001. But only about 6,500 Hong Kong women married across the border last year. Another reason for the increasing number of lone women is that they are becoming more independent and better educated: “Many women – adds the statistician - can support themselves financially and feel less need to get married”. Another factor is the changing gender ratio. A decade ago, the sexes were equal in number; now there are only 961 men for every 1,000 women. The number of single mothers has risen (27.8 per cent to 57,613 since 2001), while the number of single fathers has grown 9.8 per cent (to 14,713).
Paul Yip Siu-fai also launches an alarm: “The growing divorce rate will cause serious social ills, such as behavioural problems among the children of single parents”. There were 65,626 births in the city last year, up 36 per cent from 2001. Part of the increase was due to mainlanders giving birth in the city. One in every four babies born in the city last year had mainland parents.
Voluntary organisations are asking the government to pay more attention to the phenomenon of “singles”, by improving medical services in the face of the increasing number of people living alone into old age. Many elderly risk being left without any form of help and women are at greater risk. Many elderly parents in fact give up on living with their children because “they believe the family relationship will be better if they don't live under the same roof”.