, Volume 71, Issue 1-3, pp 411-440

The Quality of Life of Hong Kong’s Poor Households in the 1990s: Levels of Expenditure, Income Security and Poverty

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Abstract

This paper examines the changes in the quality of life of poor households in Hong Kong in the late 1990s by analyzing their levels of expenditure, income security and poverty before and after 1997. Though there have been significant increases in the levels of expenditure among CSSA recipients, the expenditure among these poorest households in Hong Kong is still below that of non-CSSA recipients. Increasing poverty in Hong Kong is the result of increasing housing costs borne by these low expenditure households, who have to squeeze their expenditure on food and other items in order to meet the rising cost of housing. De-industrialisation and mass unemployment have given capital and the state unchecked authority to restructure the economy and to deregulate the labour market. Many low-income households have been hit hard as they faced redundancy, unemployment and wage-cuts after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. What jobs have been created are mostly part-time, temporary and contract jobs, and there has thus been an erosion in both job and income security. The quality of life of poor households is devastating not only in the sense that their living standards are low, but also that they are socially excluded from the mainstream of society.