Sex Shortage in Hong Kong Worries Researchers

Experts say the city's residents need to start getting it on if they want to avoid a workforce crunch in the future

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Hong Kong’s drastically low birth rate, an average of 1.04 births per woman, has brought the city’s sexual situation under scrutiny recently. To prevent stifling labor shortages as the city’s workforce retires, sexperts are encouraging Hong Kong couples to head under the sheets more frequently. It sounds like an ideal solution, but a lack of personal space, professional priorities and what one one researcher called “the least amount of sexual knowledge in the world” may make it hard for residents to get in the mood.

According to the AFP, the biggest obstacle is privacy. The city’s 7.2 million people are stacked on top of each other in rows of closely packed skyscrapers. Its geographically limited nature contributes to astronomical real estate prices, which tends to ground younger adults in their parents’ apartments until their late 20s, and sometimes late 30s.

(MORE: Study: Being Single in China Is Enough to Make You Sick)

It also seems Hong Kongers are simply not that eager. Based on result from City University Community College’s 2011 study of nearly 1,000 adults between 36 and 80 years old, Hong Kong males were satisfied with having sex an average of 1.9 times a week, while women were content with 1.6 times. Compared with Greece’s three times per week minimum, Hong Kong does seem a little far from amorous. Another study, by British condom manufacturer Durex found that 39% of respondents claimed to be sexually inactive, a 15-percentage point increase from 2006.

A dearth in sexual education may also be causing some timidness in the sack. Hong Kongers ranked third lowest in the world in sexual confidence in a similar study in 2008. “Hong Kong is always near the bottom of the list in terms of sexual frequency in those Durex annual surveys,” professor Emil Ng, associate director at the Family Institute of the University of Hong Kong, told the AFP, adding, “It may not be a very scientific research, but it still says a lot about Hong Kong.”

Meanwhile, mainland Chinese attitudes toward sex appear to be warming up. A record number of visitors attended this year’s China Adult-Care Expo in Shanghai, and a report published by Insight China last month found that 71.4% of 1,013 respondents say they partook in premarital sex, up from 40% in 1994, The Malaysian Insider reports. “The change that has occurred in China usually takes 100 to 200 years in many countries,” sexologist Li Yinhe told the Insider. “Mainlanders are increasingly seeing sex as being for pleasure rather than reproduction.”

Despite more relaxed views on intercourse, China also faces a shortage of youth. The world’s most populated country will grapple with a shrinking labor force as more of its population enters old age, and fewer enter into the world. According to the Economist, between 2000 and 2011, the proportion of Chinese citizens under the age of 14 dropped 6%, while the percentage of elderly increased 3%. Overall, Asia’s population of people older than 60 years is estimated to quadruple by 2050 to 1.2 billion people — that’s four times the senior citizen populations in the U.S. and Europe combined, the Global Times reports.

If Hong Kong, not to mention the  rest of Asia, wants to maintain its economic growth, it’s may be time to turn up the Marvin Gaye and let nature do the rest.

(MORE: Most Singles Are Perfectly Content That Way, Study Finds)

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