Social Indicators Research

, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 519–534 | Cite as

“I Wish to be Self-Reliant”: Aspiration for Self-Reliance, Need and Life Satisfaction, and Exit Dilemma of Welfare Recipients in Hong Kong

  • Chack-Kie WongEmail author
  • Vivian Wei-Qun Lou


This qualitative study explores the welfare recipients’ experiences of and attitudes toward the welfare benefit system in Hong Kong. A sample of 19 welfare recipients from six main recipient groups was interviewed, some twice. This study finds that the recipients have strong aspirations to exit the welfare benefit system. The welfare application process is painful; they are strongly stigmatized; they do not have sufficient resources to meet many of their expected needs; and, after all, they have strong ethos for self-reliance. However, they remain in the benefit system. This study looks into this paradox and the challenges facing the welfare benefit system in Hong Kong in terms of providing ontological security on the one hand and promoting self-reliance on the other.


Self-reliance Welfare dependence Ontological security Social stigma Life satisfaction 



The paper is partially based on the unpublished report of a consultancy study. We are grateful to our client for giving us permission to cite from the report.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Work DepartmentThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong SARPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Social Work and AdministrationThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARPeople’s Republic of China

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