Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hong Kong Stats

Leaving Hong Kong with such an impression of perfection, I decided to look up some stats. I compare some data between Hong Kong, USA, Netherlands and China.

I won't fill up the blog with the numbers, but here are some observations.

Hong Kong does best for health and safety. Life expectancy is the highest there, its infant mortality is lowest, and its death rate is also the lowest. The death rate is a crude but useful aggregate indicator of things like fatal work accidents, traffic safety, violent crime, etc.

The USA was richest in purchasing power of its residents, but Hong Kong was close behind, higher than Netherlands.

Literacy and education is better than China, but not as good as USA or Netherlands. It's a little tricky to evaluate these things as 'literacy' is defined differently in different countries.

Hong Kong has by far the highest Gini coeffecient, measuring income inequality (crudely). This is in line with my own observation. I didn't see a lot of outright poverty; you'll see more homeless people in San Francisco or Seattle than in Hong Kong. However, a lot of low-level positions that are being automated in the West are still done by people in Hong Kong. You see a lot of parking attendants, receptionists, footmen in lobbies, street cleaners, etc.

I'm not sure if this is good or bad. Low-level jobs are good as gateways to the job market. There's also an advantage to immigrants. It's better to be cleaning in Hong Kong than unemployed in the Phillipines. Unemployment is at or near the natural rate even in a recession year. Still, if there is a class of people stuck in low-level jobs, that would be sad.

Finally, Hong Kong has an extremely low murder rate, #4 from the bottom, with only Japan, Saudi-Arabia and Qatar ahead.

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