LCQ12: Marriage and divorce trends in Hong Kong and their impacts on various social aspects

     Following is a question by the Hon Alice Mak and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (April 15):


     According to the information compiled by the Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong recorded an annual average of over 50 000 marriages from 2010 to 2013, while divorces increased from 18 000-odd cases in 2010 to 22 000-odd cases in 2013. Besides, remarriages likewise increased from 16 000-odd cases in 2010 to 19 000-odd cases in 2013. Regarding the marriage and divorce trends in Hong Kong and their impacts on various social aspects, including housing, people's daily lives and employment, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the crude marriage rate (i.e. the number of marriages registered in a calendar year per 1 000 mid-year population of that year) and the crude divorce rate (i.e. the number of divorce decrees granted in a calendar year per 1 000 mid-year population of that year) in Hong Kong last year; the average age of the people who were granted divorce decrees in each of the past five years;

(2) of the number of remarriages last year; among the remarriages in each of the past five years, the number of those in which either or both parties remarried for the second or more times;

(3) of the number and percentage of cross-boundary marriages in each of the past five years; among such marriages, the respective percentages of those in which the bridegroom or the bride was not a Hong Kong permanent resident;

(4) of the number of requests received by the authorities in each of the past five years from public housing tenants for splitting tenancies due to divorces and the number of approved cases among them; the average processing time for such kind of cases of splitting tenancies;    

(5) targeting at the continuous increase in the numbers of divorces and remarriages in recent years, of the support and counseling services provided to divorcees and remarried persons as well as their families by organisations such as the Social Welfare Department and the Family Planning Association, whether it has assessed the effectiveness of such services achieved last year; if so, of the outcome; and    

(6) whether the authorities have studied the impacts of the continuous rising trends of divorces and remarriages in recent years on the demographic structure, family formation, as well as the demand for housing, employment assistance and various social services in Hong Kong; if they have not, whether the authorities would study the relevant topics?



     The Hon Alice Mak's question straddles various bureaux and departments, the overall response of the Government is as follows:

(1) The crude marriage rate and the crude divorce rate are 7.8 (Note: The crude marriage rate in 2014 is provisional figure) and 2.76 respectively in 2014. The Judiciary does not keep information on average age of the people who were granted divorce decrees.

(2) The number of remarriages registered in Hong Kong in 2014 is not yet available as the relevant information is being processed. Information on the number of remarriages registered in Hong Kong, and the number of remarriage cases with two or more remarriages for either or both parties for each of the years from 2010 to 2013 is as follows:

Year*    Number of         Among the remarriage
         remarriages       cases, total number of
         registered in     cases with two or more
         Hong Kong         remarriages for either
                           or both parties
-----    -------------     ----------------------

2010     16 642               913
2011     18 268             1 057
2012     19 542             1 574
2013     19 508             2 117

* Year refers to calendar year from January 1 to December 31.

(3) Information on the number and percentage of cross-boundary marriages (Note: Cross-boundary marriages refer to the marriages between Hong Kong residents and persons from the Mainland) as well as the percentage of cross-boundary marriages by gender for the past five years is shown in the Annex.

(4) In accordance with the principle of rational allocation of public housing resources, tenants will not be allocated additional public housing resources because of divorce. Upon divorce of tenants, one of the divorced parties should make their own accommodation arrangements. If they cannot reach an agreement on the allocation of the original public rental housing (PRH) tenancy, the Housing Department (HD) will generally grant the PRH tenancy to the party with the custody of children or with whom other authorised occupants in the tenancy (such as grown-up children, parents, in-laws, etc.) have opted to live with. The other party should move out of the PRH flat. However, if the displaced party has an imminent housing need and reasons for compassionate consideration, the HD will, upon the recommendation of the Social Welfare Department (SWD), arrange another PRH flat for the displaced party through compassionate rehousing.

     We have not kept data on cases involving the allocation of additional housing resources on grounds of divorce. Furthermore, the circumstances of cases involving the allocation of another PRH flat to the displaced party through compassionate rehousing are different and it would not be appropriate to generalise those cases. Hence, we have not kept the average processing time of these cases.

(5) At present, the 65 Integrated Family Service Centres (IFSCs) and two Integrated Services Centres (ISCs) operated by the SWD or non-governmental organisations over the territory will, through their own and district networks, identify early needy families, including divorced and remarried persons and their family members, to provide timely intervention. Social workers of these centres, equipped with professional and relevant experience and skills, will make a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the divorced or remarried families and provide them with appropriate services with a view to helping them tide over the difficulties and resume family functioning as soon as practicable. IFSCs and ISCs provide a spectrum of preventive, supportive and remedial services, including family life education, parent-child activities, enquiry services, volunteer training, outreaching service, groups and programmes, intensive counselling, financial assistance and referral services, etc. In 2013-14, about 37 200 or 98 per cent of the IFSC service users were satisfied with the services they received, and about 32 800 or 97 per cent of the service users indicated that their problem-solving capacities had been enhanced.

     As far as the work of the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (the Association) is concerned, it advocates and promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights, and provides related information, education, medical and counselling services for individuals, families and the community. The Association does not provide any special support or counselling services for divorced or remarried families.

(6) To promote better understanding of matters relating to family, the Family Council has been engaging tertiary institutions and research organisations to conduct researches and surveys. In 2014, the research team commissioned by the Family Council completed the "Study on the Phenomenon of Divorce in Hong Kong", covering both quantitative and qualitative data to examine the issue of divorce in Hong Kong. Research findings of the study, alongside with the work progress of the Family Council, were presented to the Legislative Council Panel on Welfare Services on June 9, 2014. In gist, the study has helped identify the demographic and socioeconomic patterns, trend of divorce, the risk and protective factors, impacts of divorce as well as the needs of divorced families in Hong Kong. The Family Council will continue to co-ordinate efforts and inputs from relevant bureaux and departments in pursuing the recommendations of the study.

Ends/Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Issued at HKT 13:25