Date
19 November 2017
Hong Kong has more than 350,000 foreign domestic helpers while China has a shortage of about 10 million live-in nannies. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong has more than 350,000 foreign domestic helpers while China has a shortage of about 10 million live-in nannies. Photo: HKEJ

Why China badly needs good nannies

China is considering a plan to import domestic helpers from the Philippines to five big cities, and offer them up to 13,000 yuan, or about HK$15,000 per month, according to the Philippine Star newspaper.

Although the offer sounds incredibly high, China is in fact suffering from a serious shortage of domestic helpers and it is not entirely unusual for good nannies to get paid over 10,000 yuan a month.

Domestic helpers usually live with their employers and do housekeeping and take care of the elderly and children in the family.

Since the start of the millennium, more and more Chinese upper middle class families have started to hire helpers to take care of housework.

Official data shows that there are up to 23.26 million family servants in China as of 2015, up 14.4 percent from the year before. Of this, 15 million are live-in nannies.

However, it’s estimated that the nation still lacks about 10 million live-in nannies.

China’s GDP per capita reached US$8,123 last year compared with US$2,951 for the Philippines.

With Chinese women becoming more educated and now able to tap all sorts of career opportunities, few of them are willing to become a domestic helper.

Professionally trained nannies in particular have been in tight supply. Many Chinese families can only make do with nannies hired from remote regions, who cannot even speak proper Putonghua, not to mention English.

Which is why even if the salary level is set at 13,000 yuan, there should still be strong demand for good Filipino domestic helpers in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

But in the initial stage, the authorities may not be entirely comfortable with large-scale importation of maids. So there should be little concern about upsetting the demand-supply balance of domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has more than 350,000 foreign domestic helpers, with an average monthly salary of about HK$4,000.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 2

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/RA

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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