Poverty Project: New Year Update

By January 25, 2016Newsletter

Taking a Closer Look at the Poverty Issues in Hong Kong

Currently about one million residents live in poverty in Hong Kong; and a substantial amount of resource has been put into alleviation efforts. In pursuit of an in-depth understanding of poverty issues through rigorous research, the CSRP has undertaken a three-year study, the Determinants of Poverty and Potential Intervention to Alleviate Poverty in Hong Kong, with the Commission on Poverty. This study aims to closely examine the existing official indicators of poverty in Hong Kong and their interpretations, along with the trends, spatial distribution and the dynamics of poverty, as well as the barriers and needs of those who are living in poverty. The project completed half of its data collection to date and disseminated some of its preliminary research results to policy makers, academic researchers, social service providers and the general public in 2015.

Poverty Indicators – Behind the Scene
A general increasing or decreasing trend observed with the existing poverty indicators is often not enough to gauge the status of poverty problems in the city. To obtain a more comprehensive reading of the indicators, researchers on the team used decomposition analyses to estimate the proportion of changes in the indicators that are attributed to fluctuations in population structure. These findings were shared with policymakers at the Commission on Poverty Summit in 2015.

Sharing with the Communities

As one of the main knowledge exchange activities on the project in 2015, the team hosted the From Poverty Alleviation to Promoting Well-being Seminar Series in May. Main researchers on the project, Professor Paul YIP, Dr. Yi ZHANG, Dr. Qijin CHENG, and Dr. Shu-Sen CHANG presented their research findings related to poverty issues at the series. Professor Yip spoke about his reflection on income disparity and social mobility. Dr. Zhang presented on the effects of public rental housing on poverty. Meanwhile, Dr. Cheng and Dr. Chang shared their research findings on the psychological wellbeing of those who are in poverty. The series have facilitated greater discussions about current research on poverty issues and the gaps between sectors of research and services for those in need.

The CSRP is dedicated in translating its research findings into materials that are comprehendible to the general public. The team from the project published regularly in numerous newspapers, among which a series of five news articles on Hong Kong poverty problems in Mingpao was the most noteworthy in 2015.

The series was published in the period of October to December, and conveyed much insights on current poverty problems. For instance, the trend of poverty problem in 2009-2014 was found to be decreasing in scope but increasing in depth. Also, the 2014 poverty alleviation index is not effective in reflecting the real positive impacts brought by poverty alleviation policy of the government under the influence of an aging population and the changes in family structures. The detailed breakdown of impacts on different age groups is explained. We urged the need of focused and specific interventions for different target groups, in particular, improvement on remuneration of low-income workers.

Approaching the final stage of the project, we look forward to completion of data collection and analyses. We are excited about the dissemination of our findings and the impact these can have on public policy. During 2016, we will continue to do what we can to bring our findings to the attention of key policymakers, and to work collaboratively to help make Hong Kong a happier, healthier place for all.