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Research & Impact

Professor Ray FORREST
Research Professor in Cities and Social Change

The parental take on offspring priced out and staying home


Prof LUI Hon Kwong

Professor Ray FORREST

All around the world young people are finding it increasingly difficult to get onto the property ladder. Fuelled by global capital flows, and growing local inequalities in income and wealth, in many cities residential property prices are rising much faster than wages. The idea of children continuing to live with their parents well into adulthood, is one that is well established, and commonly accepted, in Hong Kong, Asia and much of Southern Europe. However, what is new is the lack of choice many young people now have about whether they move out or not, and how long it can take before they are able to set up home on their own.


Having already studied the effect this phenomenon is having on members of Hong Kong’s younger generation, Professor Ray Forrest, Lingnan’s Research Professor in Cities and Social Change, is now launching a research project examining the other side of the coin: how the parents feel about the situation; whether they intend to help their offspring financially; the impact this will have on their own plans and aspirations; and, critically, how the help it is possible to offer varies from family to family.


Funding to the tune of HK$870,000 has been secured from the Hong Kong government’s Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office for the project and, once again, Professor Forrest will be working in collaboration with Professor Yip Ngai-ming of City University of Hong Kong.


This study, titled “Housing as an Intergenerational Project - Parental Resources, Parental Strategies and the Housing Opportunities of Young People in Hong Kong”, aligns with Professor Forrest’s long-term interest in the relationship between wealth, housing and social stratification, and his concern about the growing global divide between the housing asset rich and the housing asset poor. Few places in the world suffer from a wider gap of this kind than Hong Kong.


The first stage of the research will explore the issues around intergenerational housing via three focus groups, consisting of approximately 10 young adults, 10 parents who are homeowners, and 10 parents who are in public rental housing. This will be followed by a telephone survey of 1000 parents of adult children, with half the parents being homeowners and half public tenants. From that 1000, a smaller subgroup of about 40 of 50 will be selected through which to dig into the issues in more detail. Professor Forrest is keen to look at the types of negotiations that go on between parents and children, and the choices and sacrifices parents make.


He thinks that the findings of this study will feed into the process of identifying a sustainable housing policy for Hong Kong. With prices going up and flat sizes going down, will young people want to take on a mortgage they may never be able to pay off, even with more parental support? And is it better to spend public money on building good quality public housing, rather than on home ownership schemes that push the housing market even faster down the road it is already travelling along?


To know more about Professor Ray FORREST's research projects, please click Lingnan Scholars.