Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs

Meeting on Tuesday, 3 June 1997


Role of population projections in Government’s planning process, particularly the Territorial Development Strategy Review (TDSR) 1996.


A long-term population projection is one of the important planning parameters for estimating housing needs, transport and environmental infrastructure requirements, as well as demands for open space, medical, education and other community facilities. Given the long development lead time, it is necessary to programme the supply of land and infrastructure to meet the housing and other socio-economic needs for the projected population. The objective is to match the growth of population with the provision of housing and other facilities as far as possible.

Population Projections

Twenty-year population projections are produced by the Census and Statistics Department based on the most current census/by-census results. The projection exercise takes into account the latest demographic and socio-economic developments in Hong Kong, specifically trends on fertility, mortality and migration.

In recent years, the rate of natural increase (i.e. birth less death) has been fairly low and stable. Net migration is the main factor affecting population change. The migration elements include immigrants from China as well as other people coming to Hong Kong (expatriates, returnees, foreign domestic helpers etc.).

Population Assumptions Adopted in TDSR

The Territorial Development Strategy is to provide a broad, long-term landuse-transport-environmental planning framework within which the necessary land and infrastructure can be provided, having regard to resource availability.

When the last TDSR commenced in 1991, the 1991 census-based population projection of 6.47 million by 2011 was used. To allow for some safety margin, a higher growth scenario of 6.9 million by 2011 was also formulated for strategic planning purposes. However, by 1993/94, it became increasingly clear that the population projection of 6.47 million by 2011 was on the low side. In the absence of an updated population projection from the Census & Statistics Department, two population scenarios for 2011 were adopted by the Planning Department for strategic planning purposes, namely 7.5 million under a low growth scenario and 8.1 million under a high growth scenario.

The latest population projection released by Government in May 1997 anticipated a population of about 7.8 million by 2011 and 8.2 million by 2016. This is within the range of population scenarios adopted in the TDSR. We believe that for strategic planning purposes, we can continue to use the figure of 8.1 million by 2011 under the high growth scenario as it provides a reasonable margin to allow for contingency planning.


It has to be admitted that there is always a degree of uncertainty about long-term population projections, due mainly to variation in rates of migration. For planning purposes, we therefore need to regularly update and monitor population growth and other development parameters such as housing, employment and other economic indicators. Strategic planning is a continuous process.

Planning Department
May 1997

Last Updated on 18 August 1998