City's middle class optimistic about life

Updated: 2015-06-12 07:28

By Emma Dai in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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Hong Kong's middle class are generally optimistic about various aspects of their life, but are least hopeful compared with their counterparts in the region.

Among their chief concerns are financial security and whether they can sustain a cozy lifestyle in their twilight years, according to an AIA survey.

Hong Kong scored 57.2 points in the latest AIA Middle Class Index - a benchmark to access respondents' attitude toward their life in the next 12 months. A reading above 50 indicates expectation of better life rather than worse.

Although Hong Kong's middle class are optimistic in general, they scored the lowest among four surveyed markets, with the Chinese mainland scoring 69, the highest in the region, compared with 58.1 for Taiwan and 60.2 for South Korea.

The survey, conducted between Feb 18 and March 18 this year, interviewed 500 people who classified themselves as "middle class" in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, and 1,000 mainland respondents who put themselves in the same category.

The SAR respondents claimed to have an average household income of HK$784,956 annually.

Three quarters of them said they were satisfied with their life - up 8 percentage points from 2013. For the mainland, the proportion is higher at 85 percent. But, only 38 percent of Hong Kong respondents believed they are successful, compared with the regional average of 43 percent.

The younger generation - between 25 and 34 years old - said they were less pleased, with 66 percent saying they were satisfied with their life and only 36 percent considering themselves as successful.

While staying healthy is regarded as the most important thing for local middle-class groups of all ages, more than a third - 35 percent - of the younger generation set traveling around the globe and owning property as their top goals in life. At the same time, 14 percent of the younger local middle class hoped to start their own business, compared with only 5 percent among those of 35 years of age and above.

Separately, 70 percent of the city's middle class considered themselves financially secure - 6 percentage points down from two years ago. On the mainland, 76 percent of the respondents felt the same - down 8 percentage points from 2013.

Most of the Hong Kong respondents, 68 percent, said it was important to have long-term financial planning, with nearly 40 percent believing their financial security depends largely on luck. A further 53 percent agreed that luck plays "at least some part".

In terms of financial burden, Hong Kong's middle class identified healthcare costs, housing prices and savings for retirement as their top three concerns - 48 percent, 41 percent and 37 percent, respectively. The younger respondents, 18 percent, were particularly worried about their credit-card debts, while only 6 percent of their elder counterparts saw that as a problem.

An estimated HK$13.4 million was estimated to be necessary for a comfortable twilight life in Hong Kong - 17 times the average yearly household income of the respondents.

(HK Edition 06/12/2015 page9)