Asian Urban-Wellbeing Indicators Comparative Report : Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai (2016 First Report) – Full Report

In October 2016, Civic Exchange published a report on urban-wellbeing indicators in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. To download the report, click on the link above.

For the graphic summary of this report, please refer to this link.


We live in an age of cities. During the past decade, for the first time in human existence, more human beings dwell in urban than rural areas. In Asia, urbanisation is happening rapidly, with the United Nations projecting that the urbanised population will rise from 48 per cent urban in 2014 to 65 per cent urban in 2050. This means that the governance of cities will affect the lives and wellbeing of billions more people in the coming decades.

Policy experts have also become increasingly interested in more holistic metrics of societal progress “beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”, which was never designed to measure overall wellbeing and has well-known limitations. For example, it does not include non-market contributions to society such as parenting and volunteering, and makes no effort to distinguish between socially productive and destructive spending. However, most available comparative data—especially subjective data—are between countries, not cities, despite the importance and distinctiveness of cities.

The policy challenges of cities are different from those of rural areas. Cities have concentrated populations, accelerated socioeconomic activity, greater diversification and specialisation, and cities of similar sizes face similar challenges in urban planning, traffic management, congestion, environmental degradation, crime and inequality.4 Urban populations are more cosmopolitan in nature than rural residents, and their support or opposition for different policies is affected by different factors than those for their rural counterparts.

In 2012, Civic Exchange launched the project that would become the Asian Urban-Wellbeing Indicators. The Asian Urban-Wellbeing Indicators is a public opinion survey designed to measure public attitudes towards urban life. It measures how much people care about and are satisfied with 10 different policy domains—housing, medical care, education, work and business opportunities, transportation and utilities, environmental protection, community and belonging, public safety and crime control, recreation and personal time, and quality of government.

The survey was developed over 3 years in collaboration with local partners from five diverse Asian cities—Chengdu, Delhi, Hong Kong, Manila and Penang—in order to ensure that the resulting instrument could be used in a broad range of Asian cities. The first survey wave was conducted in August 2015 to January 2016 in three selected Asian cities, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, all major commercial ports and financial centres with Chinese heritage and extensive international connections. It is hoped that the findings will provide insights into city dwellers’ attitudes and priorities in order to identify areas for further research and to provoke discussions on how urban policymakers can better meet people’s needs.

Press materials:

Civic Exchange’s presentation at the HKU-USC-IPPA Conference on Public Policy, 11 June 2016

  • Presentation by Michael E. DeGolyer [EN] [TC]
  • Presentation by Ms. Carine Lai [EN] [CN]

Survey materials:

As part of Civic Exchange’s commitment to promoting public policy research and civic engagement, we will make the Asian Urban-Wellbeing Indicators database available to the public as long as research findings derived from the data are shared with Civic Exchange. To make a data request enquiry, please download the form below and return it to Carine Lai (  

Download Asian Urban Wellbeing Index First Wave 2015-16 Data Sharing Form

Media Coverage:

23 August 2016 – HKET – 福祉指標代GDP 助解民怨
13 June 2016 – RTHK – 自由風自由PHONE: 思匯政策研究指四成港人考慮移民
13 June 2016 – RTHK – 千禧年代
13 June 2016 – RTHK Radio 3 – Backchat
13 June 2016 – ejinsight – HK trails Shanghai, Singapore in quality-of-life survey
13 June 2016 – Ming Pao – 港人生活滿意度遠遜星滬 逾四成人若可選擇會遷走
13 June 2016 – Bastille Post – 港「亞洲福祉」僅及格 輸上海、新加坡
13 June 2016 – am730 – 港人生活 滿意度 遜上海星洲 66%指非小孩理想成長地
13 June 2016 – Apple Daily – 66%市民:港不適合小孩成長
13 June 2016 – Hong Kong Commercial Daily – 調查指65%人認為港不宜兒童成長 港人生活滿意度遜滬星
13 June 2016 – Hong Kong Economic Journal – 港人生活滿意度遠遜星滬
13 June 2016 – Hong Kong Economic Times – 66%港人:港非孩子理想成長地
13 June 2016 – Metro Daily – 港人不滿生活 七成人覺得社會變差咗 42%港人:若有得揀會遷離
13 June 2016 – Oriental Daily News – 66%受訪者感嘆 港非孩子理想成長地方
13 June 2016 – Sing Tao Daily – 亞洲福祉指標港遜滬星
13 June 2016 – Sky Post – 6成半人認為 本港不利孩子成長
13 June 2016 – SCMP – HK residents top Shanghai, Singapore in gloom stakes
13 June 2016 – The Standard – Unhappy residents willing to bail out
13 June 2016 – TVB Pearl – 730 News
13 June 2016 – 新浪香港 – 港上海星洲市民生活滿意度調查 港人最悲觀 逾4成人想移民
12 June 2016 – HK01 – 三地生活滿意度調查 港包尾遜滬星 逾4成人想移民
12 June 2016 – RTHK – HK going down the pan, Singapore on the up: poll