Ageing of the population has continued. While the proportion of people aged under 15 fell from 18 per cent in 1997 to 16 per cent in 2002, the proportion of people aged 65 and over rose from 10 per cent to 11 per cent. Correspondingly, the median age of the population rose from 35 to 37 over the same period.

THE provisional population of Hong Kong at the end of 2002 was estimated at 6 815 800, up 0.8 per cent over a year earlier. This was due to 14 700 more births than deaths and a net inflow of 42 100 residents. Over the period 19972002, the average annual growth rate of the population was 0.9 per cent.

    In 2002, the birth rate was estimated at seven per 1 000, lower than that of nine per 1 000 in 1997. Yet the death rate held stable at about five per 1 000. Consequently, the rate of natural increase dropped from four to two per 1 000 over the same period.

    The age composition of the population can be reflected from the dependency ratio. The ratio of people aged under 15 and aged 65 and over to the population of working age (aged 1564), i.e. the overall dependency ratio, dropped from 399 per 1 000 in 1997 to 381 per 1 000 in 2002. This was attributable to a decline in the proportion of young persons aged under 15, which more than offset an increase in the proportion of older persons aged 65 and over in the same period.

    Hong Kong is one of the world's most densely populated places, with its land population density estimated at 6 300 persons per square kilometre in mid-2002. More statistics are given in the Appendices.