Pollution tops list of reasons to leave
The de Villiers moved to Hong Kong in July 2009 and fell in love with the city. However, after a year in which, due to the severe air pollution, their children suffered bouts of bronchitis and asthma, and Annemarie de Villiers herself also suffered bronchitis and migraines, the family decided they had to move.
“The de Villiers’ story is not an uncommon one. Hong Kong’s reputation as a global business hub with a high standard of living is increasingly being forced to contend with its reputation as a city of smog.”
A Civic Exchange study last month found that one in four people are considering leaving due to air pollution. It also found that those most likely to leave are the best and brightest (52 per cent of those with postgraduate degrees, 49 per cent of those earning HK$60,000 or more per month, and 42 per cent of those in management and administration).
“A 2009 Gallup survey found Singapore to be the most preferred location, based on its Potential Net Migration Index. According to the survey, if all adults in the world left their countries to live anywhere they could, the population of Singapore would swell by 260 per cent. Hong Kong’s would drop by 15 per cent – the same amount as Iraq, Sri Lanka and Georgia.
Ben Tyrrell, director of moving company Relocasia, said that 70 per cent of the more than 1,500 families that his company moved in the past year cited air pollution as the major or a major contributing factor towards their departure.
His clients moved to countries like Australia, Britain and especially Singapore, where business had tripled year-on-year and was expected to triple again in 2011. Most of them were young married expatriates with small children, looking to expand their families.”
“I think you’ll find family and health factors are probably the number one reason whether or not someone will accept a posting overseas.”
“Mathew Gollop, group managing director of executive search recruitment business ConnectedGroup, said that when the choice of country for a new posting was available to his candidates, the level of air pollution was a major deciding factor.”
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