Who intended to leave? Patterns and impacts of Hong Kong's recent wave of migration

Eric K. CHONG, Kit Wa Anita CHAN, Mathew Y. H. WONG, Man Y. K. LEE, Ting On Lewis CHEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


During Hong Kong's 2019 political turmoil and the subsequent impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, a rapid rise in turnover rates in certain occupations, such as teachers, medical workers and civil servants, was observed. Some attributed this trend to the increasing rate of emigration. Previous studies have suggested that younger and better-educated individuals are more likely to emigrate, and that the emigration of a specific group of the population has various impacts on the society of origin. Therefore, we explored the demographic characteristics of potential emigrants in Hong Kong and contrasted such findings with a previous wave of migration to examine the potential impact of the current wave. Based on a territory-wide telephone survey, we found that (1) the associations of age and level of education with the intention to emigrate internationally (i.e., to destinations other than mainland China) corresponded to the typical young, well-educated emigrant described in the literature; (2) a higher level of income was associated with a lower intention of international migration; (3) people in occupations such as professionals and managers, clerical and service workers and students reported a greater intention to emigrate than other groups; and (4) individuals born in Hong Kong were more likely to emigrate and less likely to move to mainland China than those born in mainland China. The implications of these intended migration patterns for ageing and fertility, short- and long-term workforce shortages in tertiary sectors and the city's overall competitiveness are discussed. Copyright © 2024 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Early online dateApr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2024


Chong, E. K., Chan, A. K. W., Wong, M. Y. H., Lee, M. Y. K., & Cheung, L. T. O. (2024). Who intended to leave? Patterns and impacts of Hong Kong's recent wave of migration. Population, Space and Place. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/psp.2781


  • Demographics
  • Emigration
  • Hong Kong
  • International migration
  • Labour shortage


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