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Back to Hong Kong: Return migration or transnational sojourn? - page 12 / 33





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residents holding foreign passports steadily inflated in media stories,

reaching the giddy figures of 500,000-700,000 out of a population of

around 6.5 million by the mid 1990s. Canadian passport-holders were

regarded as the largest single group with estimates ranging from a low

figure of 150,000 to a maximum of 500,000 by the Canadian Chamber of

Commerce in Hong Kong.

In 1999 the Government of Hong Kong sought to establish a profile

of returnees through its General Household Survey of 22,300

households, conducted with a response rate of 92 percent (Government

of Hong Kong 2000). Returnees were defined as those who had returned

to reside in Hong Kong after spending at least two years of the previous

decade in another country. While the survey produced an estimate of

120,000 returnees, this figure was discounted as subject to “substantial

under-reporting…(o)wing to the rather sensitive nature of the subject”

(2000: 48). Nonetheless the profile of returnees was informative, and

confirmed media reports that members of a departed economic elite were

re-establishing residence in the territory. Returnees were three times as

likely as the general population to be in the top income bracket of more

than HK$30,000 a month. Almost three-quarters were employed as

professionals, managers and administrators, and over half of the adults

had university degrees, a rate five times greater than the population at

large. There was an under-representation of children and the elderly, and

a heavy over-representation of adults in their twenties and thirties.

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