Social Indicators Research

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 811–825 | Cite as

Trends in Child Poverty in Hong Kong Immigrant Families

  • Kee-Lee Chou
  • Kelvin Chi-Kin Cheung
  • Maggie Ka-Wai Lau
  • Tony Chuen-Ho Sin
Article

Abstract

In Hong Kong, child poverty is a serious social problem which may lead to intergenerational poverty, but nevertheless only a few studies have examined this issue, particularly for immigrant families. Using Census data (5 %) from 1981, 1991, 2001, and 2011, we assessed child poverty rates in the past three decades and identified key variables contributing to changes in the risk of child poverty for both immigrant and local families. Our results indicate that child poverty rates in Hong Kong-born families have fluctuated between 14.3 and 15.8 % over the past three decades, while for immigrant families they have increased steadily and substantially from 18.1 % in 1981 to 36.5 % in 2001 and then to 37.5 % in 2011. We show that the increase in immigrant child poverty is associated with changes in the Hong Kong economy that have made it more difficult for such families to adapt to the host society, especially in the 1990s and that this negative effect offset the positive influence of compositional changes among this group of immigrant families in terms of parental education levels and family size. The gap between immigrant and local families in terms of child poverty risk is mainly due to the fact that during the 1990s the negative effect of contextual changes in Hong Kong was cancelled out by the beneficial impact of compositional changes for local families, but not for immigrant families where the latter effect was minimal.

Keywords

Child poverty Immigrant family Trend Hong Kong Chinese 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Grant sponsor: This work was funded by the Research Grant Council, Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (HKIEd 7005-PPR-12).

References

  1. Ban, K. M. (2007). Children and the millennium development goals: Progress towards a world fit for children. New York: United Nation Children’s Fund.Google Scholar
  2. Blinder, A. S. (1973). Wage discrimination: reduced form and structural variables. Journal of Human Resources, 8, 436–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borjas, G. J. (2011). Poverty and program participation among immigrant children. The Future of Children, 21(1), 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brooks-Gunn, J., & Duncan, G. J. (1997). The effects of poverty on children. The Future of Children, 7(2), 55–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Casper, L. M., & Bianchi, S. M. (2002). Continuity and change in the American family. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Census and Statistics Department. (1982). 1981 Population census main report. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
  7. Census and Statistics Department. (1992). 1991 Population census main report—Vol. 1. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
  8. Census and Statistics Department. (2002). 2001 Population census main report—Vol. 1. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
  9. Census and Statistics Department. (2012a). 2011 Population census main report—Vol. 1. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
  10. Census and Statistics Department. (2012b). Hong Kong population projection 2011–2041. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
  11. Census and Statistics Department. (2012c). Thematic report: Persons from the mainland having resided in Hong Kong for less than 7 years. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.Google Scholar
  12. Chiu, S. W. K., Choi, S. Y. P., & Ting, K. F. (2006). Getting ahead in the capitalist paradise: Migration from China and socioeconomic attainment in colonial Hong Kong. International Migration Review, 39(1), 203–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chiu, S. W. K., & Lui, T. L. (2004). Testing the global city-social polarisation thesis: Hong Kong since the 1990s. Urban Studies, 41(10), 1863–1888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chou, K. L. (2009). Pre-migration planning and depression among new migrants to Hong Kong: the moderating role of social support. Journal of Affective Disorders, 114, 85–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chou, K. L. (2012). Familial effect on child poverty in Hong Kong immigrant families. Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/s11205-012-0088-7.
  16. Chou, K. L., & Chow, N. W. (2009). The roles of human capital and social capital in the economic integration of new arrivals from Mainland China to Hong Kong. Habitat International, 33, 340–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chou, K. L., Wong, W. K., & Chow, N. W. (2011). Interaction between pre- and post-migration factors on depressive symptoms in new migrants to Hong Kong from mainland China. Community Mental Health Journal, 47, 560–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crowley, M., Lichter, D. T., & Qian, Z. (2006). Beyond gateway cities: Economic restructuring and poverty among Mexican immigrant families and children. Family Relations, 55(3), 345–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Currie, C., Zanotti, C., Morgan, A., Currie, D., de Looze, M., Roberts, C., et al. (2012). Social determinants of health and well-being among young people. Health behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC) study: International report from the 2009/2010 survey. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe (Health Policy for Children and Adolescents, No. 6).Google Scholar
  20. Dittmer, L., & Liu, G. (2006). China’s deep reform: Domestic politics in transition. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  21. Duncan, G. J., Magnuson, K., Kalil, A., & Ziol-Guest, K. (2012). The importance of early childhood poverty. Social Indicators Research, 108, 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Esping-Andersen, G. (2009). Investing in children and equalizing life chances. In G. Esping-Andersen (Ed.), The incomplete revolution: Adapting to women’s new roles (pp. 111–144). Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  23. Fairlie, R. W. (2005). An extension of the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition technique to logit and probit models. Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, 30(4), 305–316.Google Scholar
  24. Fan, C. S., & Cheung, K. Y. (2004). Trade and wage inequality: The Hong Kong case. Economic Review, 9(2), 131–142.Google Scholar
  25. Fitchen, J. M. (1995). Spatial redistribution of poverty through migration of poor people to depressed rural communities. Rural Sociology, 60, 181–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (2012). The 2012–2013 Budget. Hong Kong: Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.Google Scholar
  27. Haveman, R. (2009). What does it mean to be poor in a rich society? In M. Cancian & S. Danziger (Eds.), Changing poverty, changing policies. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  28. Holzer, H. J., Schanzenbach, D. W., Duncan, G. J., & Ludwig, J. (2007). The economic costs of poverty in the United States: Subsequent effects of children growing up poor. Ann Arbor: Michigan National Poverty Center, working paper series #07-04.Google Scholar
  29. Hong Kong Council of Social Service. (2012). Rate of persons in low income households (2001–2011). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Council of Social Service.Google Scholar
  30. Iceland, J. (2003). Why poverty remains high: The role of income growth, economic inequality, and changes in family structure, 1949–1999. Demography, 40(3), 499–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Immigration Department. (2012). Hong Kong: The facts. Hong Kong: Immigration Department.Google Scholar
  32. Kazemipur, A., & Halli, S. S. (1997). Plight of immigrants: The spatial concentration of poverty in Canada. Canadian Journal of Regional Science, 1(2), 11–28.Google Scholar
  33. Lam, K. C., & Liu, P. W. (1998). Immigration, population heterogeneity, and earnings inequality in Hong Kong. Contemporary economic policy, 16(3), 265–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lam, K. C., & Liu, P. W. (1999). Immigration: A source of labour supply in Hong Kong. In P. Fosh, E. Snape, W. Chow, A. Chan, & B. Westwood (Eds.), Hong Kong management and labour: Change and continuity (pp. 107–124). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Lam, K. C., & Liu, P. W. (2002a). Earnings divergence of immigrants. Journal of Labor Economics, 20(1), 86–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lam, K. C., & Liu, P. W. (2002b). Relative returns to skills and assimilation of immigrants in Hong Kong. Pacific Economic Review, 7(2), 229–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lam, K. C., & Liu, P. W. (2011). Increasing dispersion of skills and rising earnings inequality. Journal of Comparative Economics, 39(1), 82–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lau, M., Chen, X., & Ren, Y. (2012). Increased risk of cigarette smoking among immigrant children and girls in Hong Kong: An emerging public health issue. Journal of Community Health, 37(1), 144–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lee, K. M., & Wong, H. (2004). Marginalized workers in postindustrial Hong Kong. Journal of Comparative Asian Development, 3(2), 249–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lee, K. M., Wong, H., & Law, K. Y. (2007). Social polarisation and poverty in the global city: The case of Hong Kong. China Report, 43(1), 1–30.Google Scholar
  41. Lichter, D. T. (1997). Poverty and inequality among children. Annual Review of Sociology, 23, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lichter, D. T., Qian, Z., & Crowley, M. (2005). Child poverty among racial minorities and immigrants: Explaining trends and differentials. Social Science Quarterly, 86, 22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Liu, P. W., Zhang, J., & Chuen, C. S. (2004). Occupational segregation and wage differentials between natives and immigrants: Evidence from Hong Kong. Journal of Development Economics, 73(1), 395–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Massey, D. S., Gross, A. B., & Shibuya, K. (1994). Migration, segregation, and the geographic concentration of poverty. American Sociological Review, 59, 425–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Oaxaca, R. (1973). Male-female wage differentials in urban labor markets. International Economic Review, 14, 693–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ridge, T. (2011). The everyday costs of poverty in childhood: A review of qualitative research exploring the lives and experiences of low-income children in the UK. Children and Society, 25(1), 73–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thomas, K. J. A. (2011). Familial influences on poverty among young children in black immigrant, US-born black, and nonblack immigrant families. Demography, 48, 437–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. UNICEF. (2007). Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries, Innocenti Report Card 7. Florence: Unicef Innocenti Research Centre.Google Scholar
  49. UNICEF. (2010). The children left behind: A league table of inequality in child well-being in the world’s rich countries, Innocenti Report Card 9. Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.Google Scholar
  50. United Nations Children’s Fund. (2012). The state of the world’s children 2012: Children in an urban world. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund.Google Scholar
  51. van Hook, J., Brown, S. L., & Kwenda, M. N. (2004). A decomposition of trends in poverty among children of immigrants. Demography, 41(4), 649–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Van Hulst, A., Séguin, L., Zunzunegui, M. V., Vélez, M. P., & Nikiéma, B. (2011). The influence of poverty and social support on the perceived health of children born to minority migrant mothers. Ethnicity & Health, 16(3), 185–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wong, D. F. K. (2008). Differential impacts of stressful life events and social support on the mental health of mainland Chinese immigrant and local youth in Hong Kong: A resilience perspective. British Journal of Social Work, 38(2), 236–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wu, X. (2007). Family resources and educational stratification: The case of Hong Kong, 1981–2001. Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, 3, 173–201.Google Scholar
  55. Zhang, Z., & Wu, X. (2011). Social change, cohort quality and economic adaptation of Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong, 1991–2006. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 20(1), 1–29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kee-Lee Chou
    • 1
  • Kelvin Chi-Kin Cheung
    • 1
  • Maggie Ka-Wai Lau
    • 2
  • Tony Chuen-Ho Sin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Asian and Policy StudiesThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationHong KongChina
  2. 2.Department of Public PolicyCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong

Personalised recommendations