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Hong Kongers' Economic Outlook Turns Increasingly Grim

Hong Kongers' Economic Outlook Turns Increasingly Grim

by Elizabeth Keating and RJ Reinhart

Story Highlights

  • Record-high 79% of Hong Kongers say their local economy is getting worse
  • 34% say their standard of living is getting worse, up from 23%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The recent coronavirus outbreak is only likely to add to the existing serious doubts that most Hong Kongers had about the future of their economy at the height of the political unrest last year. In late 2019, the percentage of Hong Kong residents who said their local economy was getting worse vaulted to a record-high 79%. At the same time, 12% of Hong Kongers remained optimistic about the direction of their economy.

Line graph. Trend in Hong Kongers’ economic outlook.

These Gallup World Poll data were collected Aug. 10-Oct. 25, 2019, in Hong Kong, amid civil unrest that started over changes to the region's extradition laws that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to other jurisdictions.

Before the sharp downturn in 2019, Hong Kongers' optimism about their local economic conditions had been in a steady decline for much of the past decade. Interestingly, the decline in Hong Kongers' optimism in their local economy has been taking place while the region's GDP has largely been climbing -- so there has been a disconnect between official statistics and how people see the situation.

Optimism About Standard of Living Also Declines

Amid the unrest, Hong Kongers' optimism about their standard of living has also worsened. Roughly four in 10 Hong Kongers say their standard of living is getting better, matching the previous low that occurred in 2008 in the early days of the global financial crisis.

Line graph. Hong Kongers’ outlook on their living standards.

Drop in Confidence Has Not Yet Affected Current Assessments

While Hong Kongers are increasingly pessimistic about their future, they are not as dour about their current situation. When asked to evaluate their current standard of living, Hong Kongers' satisfaction has stayed between 75% and 82% for the past decade. The current 79% is essentially unchanged from 82% in 2017.

Line graph. Trend in Hong Kongers’ satisfaction with living standards.

Bottom Line

Hong Kongers' optimism about what their economic future holds was clearly shaken in the recent unrest. This pessimism is likely to rise because of the recent coronavirus outbreak in the region and public discontent over authorities' response.

The fear over the outbreak has coincided with Hong Kongers' increasingly shaky confidence in key institutions such as the judicial system and elections. On the other side of the outbreak, restoring confidence and optimism will prove a daunting challenge for the region's newly elected government.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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