Little Hong Kong: 1 in 5 women will remain single for the rest of her life (Part 6)

There are 864 men for every 1,000 women in Hong Kong

In China, there are about 1,176 men for every 1,000 women in China.  By 2020, there will be an estimated 24 million men unable to find a wife.  This is a direct consequence of the One Child Policy.  But in Hong Kong, the situation is the exact opposite.  As recorded by the last government census, there are about 864 men for every 1,000 women in Hong Kong.  And the situation is getting worse – there are more and more women, whilst less and less men.  Based on these statistics, it is estimated that 1 in 5 women born in Hong Kong today will be single for the rest of her life.

Why there are so many more women than men in Hong Kong

There are many reasons for this.  First, about 100-150 mainlanders, many of whom women, enter Hong Kong everyday with one-way permits.  Second, there are more than 300,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, almost all being women.  Third?  Unmarried Hong Kong women.  There are so many unmarried women in Hong Kong that there has been TV shows devoted to them, like the infamous TVB show “盛女愛作戰”.  盛女愛作戰 literally means “the love battles of leftover women“.  If that doesn’t sound bad enough, the official English title’s worse – “Bride Wannabes“.  The title Bride Wannabes suggests these women will never be brides!

Possible causes for “leftover” women in Hong Kong

One possible cause is that many HongKongers spend their 20’s on their careers.  When men reach their 30’s, they might date and marry a younger woman.  On the other hand, a career woman in her 30’s might have lesser choices, unless she’s open to date younger men.  The next factor is cross-border marriages between Hong Kong men and mainland wives.  In 2013, government records show that such cross-border marriages accounted for 47.8% of all marriages registered in Hong Kong.  Finally, in Chinese society, it is the norm for men to “marry down,” and women, “marry up” (i.e. women marrying wealthier men).

Hong Kong women are one of the most competitive in the world

While I was studying in PCLL (postgraduate certificate in laws) at HKU, I estimate that for every 10 students, there were 7 girls and 3 boys.  These girls are academically very strong and many boys found it difficult if not impossible to compete with them.  The same goes for job searching – you will have those most prestigious internships and traineeships offered mostly to girls.  In the commercial world, good looks are important to create a good image for clients.  For some bosses, hiring female trainees may be an answer to pleasing their mostly male clients.  Suffice to say, girls would outmatch boys in almost every department, including looks.

Men are expected not only to provide materially, but also romantically

50 years ago, many women simply looked for hardworking men to support their families.  Today, in the age of “My Love from the Star” (來自星星的你), men are expected to be somewhat romantic (even if we can’t stop time and teleport ourselves to save you – in slow motion – from harm, with background chorus playing).  Men are now judged by both their earning and romantic powers as potential husbands.  The result is that some women might rather be single than be with someone who isn’t their “Mr. Right.”  Thus, some good men who are “not good enough” have no choice but to find mainland wives who may be less demanding (at least before marriage).

Women are not wrong for desiring capable men in a difficult world

From women’s perspective (I’m only guessing what they might think), all they might be looking for is someone they could start a family with – but this requires a roof over her head.  With rising property prices, it has become almost impossible for many young HongKongers to climb the property ladder.  Combined with traditional gender roles in Chinese society, it has become very difficult for women to find men who are capable of purchasing a home, let alone a “dream home.”  We can all agree that Hong Kong women are extremely capable – but if even they find it difficult to buy a home, just think of the men.

I am writing on the assumption that marriage is what many people are looking for.  What if you want to stay single?  That’s fine.  But I believe that most people (especially Chinese people) desire to have someone who they can depend on, look after, and be looked after, when they get old.  Humans are emotional animals and we need something more than just food, water and air to enjoy life.  I believe that society will be much more harmonious when people are able to find love.  Although love requires a lot of time and effort, it is the best outlet in life for us to express ourselves.


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