Special Report – Well placed among GBA cities

A study compared the 11 cities in the Greater Bay Area, with Macau presenting well or very well on several indicators, from public libraries per capita to the proportion of social security expenditure. The problem is the average price of commercial housing.

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Where does Macau’s livelihood satisfaction rank compared with the other 10 cities in the Guangdong Hong Kong Macau Greater Bay Area?

In their search for answers, two professors from the City University of Macau undertook an unprecedented study, selecting a variety of indicators and comparing the values for each of the 11 cities.

Dongpeng Xu and Deqin Lin, both of the Faculty of Finance, analysed “the spatial distribution of people’s livelihood satisfaction in different parts of the Bay Area, compared the spatial distribution characteristics of people’s livelihood satisfaction in different regions of the Bay Area, and described the regional nature of people’s livelihood satisfaction in the Guangdong, Hong Kong Macau Bay Area (GBA) from the measurements and qualitative descriptions, providing theoretical reference and decision support for the coordinated development of the Bay Area and the improvement of people’s livelihood level.”

In all 13 indicators were used.

[Social Security Expenditure/Government Re-Current Expenditure in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao]

In terms of the proportion of social security expenditure to government re-current expenditure in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, Macau performed best at 27 per cent, followed by Hong Kong at 19 per cent, both far exceeding the national expenditure ratio of 12 per cent, while Shenzhen’s social security expenditure ratio at 5 per cent was the lowest among Bay Area cities.

Related to this subject are pension levels.

Data from Xu and Lin show that Shenzhen (4,169), Guangzhou (3,388) and Macau (3,028) have the most generous pension levels. In contrast, Hong Kong has lower indicators.

“Although the pension level in Macau ranks third, the fee paid by workers while employed is only 75 yuan per month, far lower than the average social security fee paid in the mainland region. For example, according to Shenzhen’s 2017 minimum wage of 2130 yuan, of which individuals pay 8 per cent as a social security fee, Shenzhen workers are paying 170 yuan per month in social security expenses. In terms of comprehensive social security pressure and treatment, coupled with old-age pension, cash sharing and other subsidies, Macau elderly residents can receive about 5087 yuan a month of social assistance. Macau residents’ pension level is the best performer,” reads the paper.

(Xinhua/Tian Jianchuan)

[Comparison of Employment Situation in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao]

The employment situation:

In 2017, the total number of employed persons in the urban clusters of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau was over 44 million, and the unemployment rate in each city remained within a low range at 2.0 per cent–3.1 per cent. Shenzhen and Guangzhou account for 41 per cent of the total, while Macau has the lowest unemployment rate at just 2 per cent.

The average price of commercial housing:

Across the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Bay Area it is RMB 31,803/m2, with the average housing prices within Hong Kong and Macau the highest at RMB 138,214/m2 and RMB 84,795.6/m2, respectively.

In terms of housing prices across Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, only the two Guangdong cities of Jiangmen and Zhaoqing have an average price of commercial housing below the national average (7900 yuan/m2).

Public services:

Among the 11 cities in the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Bay Area the average student–teacher ratio for secondary education is best in Shenzhen, with about 6.2 students per teacher, followed closely by Macau, with 10 students per teacher. The highest student load per teacher exists in Dongguan City (15.7 students), revealing tight educational resources. (The average student–teacher ratio is 13.4 for high schools and 12.52 for junior high schools nationwide. The average across the 11 Bay Area cities is 11.6 – higher than the national average.)

If the analysed criterion is the Rate of Advancement of High School Graduates, Macau has the highest undergraduate rate at 94 per cent, far higher than the Bay Area average of 59 per cent. Zhaoqing City has the lowest rate of promotion, with only 40 per cent of high school students advancing to undergraduate studies.

[The Ratio of Libraries and Residents in The Great Bay Area of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao]

The number of public libraries in Shenzhen has risen to 638, thanks to planning by the City of Shenzhen Libraries. Zhuhai has the lowest number of libraries, just three, while Macau ranks best in the ratio of population to public libraries, while in Foshan City library resources are scarce, with 1.276 million residents per library.

“To sum up, the 11 cities in the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Bay Area have their own characteristics, and Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau are geographically close and the people are closely related,” the pair of authors write.

“Since the reunification, cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau has been further strengthened, with complementary goals and development of common advantages. At present, relevant policies and regulations at the national level have been continuously improved and implemented to further promote the deepening of cooperation in the Bay Area, to better develop the potential of Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau and the Greater Bay Area, and ultimately to enhance people’s sense of well-being and belonging,” Xu and Lin conclude.

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