23 April 2019
Young Hongkongers would rather spend their money on travel than save up for the down payment for a tiny flat. Photo: Bloomberg
Young Hongkongers would rather spend their money on travel than save up for the down payment for a tiny flat. Photo: Bloomberg

The death of ‘little four’ ideology

In the Golden ’70s, what drove social mobility in Hong Kong was the “Little Four” ideology. This, of course, refers to every young Hongkonger’s dream of owning a car and a home, getting hitched and having a baby – in that order.

But according to Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist Bernadette Tsui, that is now a thing of the past.

First, why would you need a car when you can call Uber or hail a taxi? Besides, Hong Kong is a most car-unfriendly city where the tiniest parking space would cost you an arm and a leg.

Ditto for a home, whose price has surged since the 2008 financial tsunami and even amid worries over the trade conflict between China and the United States. 

Marriage? Many have vowed to remain single because they feel they can’t afford to “settle down”. Add to that the fact that 40 percent of marriages end up in divorce in Hong Kong. Tsui estimates that a third of newly-weds file for divorce just a year after making their “till death do us part” vows.

And having a baby? Forget it. If you have a problem with getting married, then …  No wonder Hong Kong has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates.

And since it takes about HK$10 million to raise a child to adulthood, according to one study, there is a bigger chance that a couple owns a dog rather than having a baby.

A survey by Citibank released last week showed that 63 percent of young people in the city believe that they will not be able to afford a house in the next ten years.

The unaffordability of housing, in fact, was one of the factors, aside from the clamor for genuine universal suffrage, that sparked the Occupy Movement four years ago.

That’s sad, but not the end of the world. Instead of moping over the high cost of living in the city, our young people have decided to enjoy life and commit themselves to the pursuit of pleasure.

According to the same Citibank survey, more than half (53 percent) of the young respondents would like to spend their earnings on traveling and dining out rather than saving for a down payment for a flat. 

This emerging lifestyle is reflected in the results of another survey by Skyscanner, a travel search engine now under Chinese travel services provider, which found that the average Hongkonger would take three vacations a year – one long-haul journey and two short hauls.

That’s why we have more young professionals going to Iceland than those saving up for the down payment for a tiny flat.

Life is hard, so let’s party! A new age of hedonism appears to have dawned on our youth.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe