A new study by HSBC has shown that parents in Hong Kong spend more on their children’s education than any other country in the world (http://www.hsbc.com/news-and-insight/media-resources/media-releases/2017/the-value-of-education-higher-and-higher). Between primary school and university, parents in Hong Kong spend a staggering US$132,161 per child, way above the global average of US$44,221. Data from Hong Kong even outstripped that of its nearest rivals, the UAE at US$99,378, and Singapore at US$70,939. The study collected the opinions of 8,481 parents in 15 countries and territories around the world: Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, UAE, UK and USA. So one of its clear shortcomings in that we have no idea how comparatively generous parents in Japan, Germany or numerous other countries are.
Furthermore, the study focused on a dollar value, rather than a percentage of income. Salaries in Hong Kong are comparatively high, so parents have more to spend on their children, but is a CEO who devotes 10% of a vast salary to their child’s education more generous than someone who devotes as much as possible form a more meagre salary? Such conclusions equate socioeconomic status directly with educational success, when in reality, the story is much more complicated. There is a great deal of research that equates socioeconomic status with child health and development, often in terms of access to support systems and resources. However, it is only the children in the poorest categories, who struggle with access to a stable diet and solid education, that are truly in danger. Parents who do their best to provide healthy, regular meals, who happily spend time with their children, who are invested in their children’s educational growth, and who take an interest in their family and surroundings, are just as likely to foster educational success.
The HSBC study remains questionable for a number of reasons, not least because its highly selective figures were used to argue that parents must rely on investments and long-term savings to fund their children’s education despite the fact that 74% of those interviewed use their day-to-day income for this purpose. It also misrepresented data, claiming that, “When thinking about the courses they would like their child to study at university, parents show their ambition. Medicine (13%), business, management and finance (11%), and engineering (10%) are the most preferred.” These percentages are tiny and refer to fields that are astonishingly broad. They also imply that the majority of parents expressed no preference, but remained happy to support their children as 91% would consider postgraduate education for their child and 76% expected to financially contribute to that decision. The study represents a detailed analysis of a highly selective data set and explores a single aspect of what is necessary for a child to succeed intellectually and emotionally.
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