Officials on both sides of the border have been pulling out all the stops to encourage young people in Hong Kong to seek fortune and opportunities in the "Greater Bay Area". By and large, their efforts have fallen on deaf ears.
Many overtly political reasons have been cited, and they all probably play a part. Among these are distrust of the central government, dislike of mainlanders and their culture, and the rise of political localism.
Other deterrents include the vagueness of the bay area plan, travel costs, internet access, language barrier (yes, not every Hongkonger speaks Mandarin), and the lack of entitlement programmes, such as health care and welfare benefits.
But there is one crucial cultural factor that is usually ignored, and may be the most important: our millennials (roughly those aged between 22 and 35) simply refuse to move out of their parents' homes, let alone out of the city.
A 2016 survey by the global real estate service provider CBRE found that 84 per cent of Hong Kong millennials lived with their parents, the highest in Asia-Pacific. Another study by City University's Urban Research Group collected a lower figure, but still extraordinarily high: 78 per cent.
Such findings are often framed in terms of a global trend: young people worldwide are staying longer at home, even after they graduate from university and find work.
Some even continue after marriage.
But at least before the millennial generation, in places such as North America, there was the widespread expectation and practice of young people moving out of their parents' homes to start their own lives, often in another city.
No such cultural expectation exists in Hong Kong. Indeed, Chinese culture has long encouraged young people to stay at home longer than their Western counterparts; it is never something to be ashamed of. Moving to another city to start a new life, career and/or marriage, as those promoting the Greater Bay Area are urging young people to do, is something quite out of our local character, even if their arguments make economic and business sense.
Living with your parents is further encouraged by more recent developments: our rents and homes are among the most expensive in the world. At the same time, starting salaries today are either the same or lower than those before the 1997 handover.
Our officials, however well-intentioned, are fighting the great inertia of a whole generation.
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