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Social Inequality and Mobility in Hong Kong: Findings from A Benchmark Survey, 2007 Xiaogang WU ( ) Associate Professor Social Science Division Hong Kong.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Inequality and Mobility in Hong Kong: Findings from A Benchmark Survey, 2007 Xiaogang WU ( ) Associate Professor Social Science Division Hong Kong."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Inequality and Mobility in Hong Kong: Findings from A Benchmark Survey, 2007 Xiaogang WU ( ) Associate Professor Social Science Division Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Nov 6, 2009

2 1. Background of Research on Inequality Rising inequality has been a pressing issue faced by many countries in recent decades. It is economic, social, and political issue that deserves research from all major social science disciplines. Sociological research on inequality considers hierarchical social structures that rank people with respect to access to certain resources, and how such structure/pattern varies in different context. Research on class inequality and mobility: WHO GETS WHAT, AND WHY? Occupation is an important basis of social stratification, through which majority of us earn income.

3 Social Science and The Public Policy Theory-based and empirically-tested models of inequality that can assist not only in understanding ongoing changes in inequality but also in evaluating public policy and social interventions. Basis: the collection and empirical analysis of population-based sample data. The case of Hong Kong: two contrasting images.

4 Historical Trends : Government Statistics

5 Economic Development and Income Inequality in Hong Kong,

6 Comparative Income Inequality: the Case of Hong Kong

7 2. Hong Kong s Inequality in Policy Debate Inequality has become a political issue (high Gini coefficient is often cited as evidence). The government set up a new Commission on Poverty in 2005 to tackle the problems related to poverty, among which inter-generational transfer of poverty was listed on the top of the Commissions policy. Stagnant social mobility and the emergence of M- shape society.

8 Social Mobility Some argued that in the context of economic recession and industrial restructuring, Hong Kong is increasingly polarized, fitting the scenario of the M-shaped societies. Others contended that little statistical evidence suggests such an ongoing trend, namely, ordinary peoples living standards are on the decline and social mobility is blocked.

9 The Chief Executives Policy Address 2009

10 Temporal Trends in Social Mobility Intergenerational or intergenerational mobility; How structural change shapes opportunities; The role of educational expansion in affecting the pattern of social mobility. Evidence from the Census and By-census Data,

11 Industrial Restructuring

12 Occupational Change

13 Educational Expansion

14 3. Social Inequality and Social Mobility: a Benchmark Survey Public policy research: data as the basis, and methodology as the arbitrator. Funded by the CPU Public Policy Research Fund (1 st ). Large sample size (N=4013) Representative: a 2-stage stratified replicated sampling design for the survey. To make the data representative of the general population, a weight is created based on the official statistics in terms of sex, age, education, and household size from the 2006 Hong Kong by-census data Comprehensive: covers various topics related to social stratification and mobility, both objective and subjective ones. Benchmark to monitor changes.

15 Occupation Occupation: Narrative descriptions of the job for respondent at different time, the respondents father, have been coded to 3-digit ISCO88 occupation categories. 9 categories collapsed into 6 in analysis

16 Inter-generational and Intra-generational Mobility

17 Trends in Occupational Mobility in Hong Kong, by Birth Cohort

18 Mobility Rates by Cohort

19 Educational Expansion by Cohort Implication for occupational structure

20 Mobility into Managerial/Professional, Associate Professionals, Clerks

21 Mobility into Service, Skilled and Unskilled Workers

22 4. Becoming Middle Class Operational definition: managers/professional, and associate professional (yes=1). Independent variables: education (secondary or below, tertiary non-degree, and tertiary degree) Cohort ( ) Sex (male=1) Immigrant (whether born in HK) Living in public housing at age 14 (yes=1).

23 Logit Models Predicting the Likelihood of Attainment of Middle-Class in Hong Kong

24 Findings The importance of education in becoming middle class; Younger cohort ( ) has significantly less chance of mobility into middle class; Men are more likely than women to become middle class Those from poor family background (living in public housing at age 14) are less likely to move into middle class, even net of education. Interaction terms suggest that young cohorts who received tertiary education had less chance to become middle class than their older counterparts.

25 Summary and Conclusions Economic transformation/restructuring has led to a decline in job opportunities in manufacturing sector, and skilled and unskilled workers, and the growth in service/sales jobs. The expansion of tertiary education but limited professional/managerial jobs has led to the inflation of clerk jobs, many of which are filled by tertiary school graduates, who would be almost guaranteed professional and managerial jobs in the past years. In other words, tertiary graduates are increasingly less likely to make into managerial/professional and associate professional jobs. Living in public housing at age 14, and immigrant status also affect the chance of becoming middle class.

26 Summary and Conclusions Despite the fact said above, there is a very high rate of intergenerational mobility in HK, including both upward and downward mobility; The rate of intra-generational mobility across occupational class has been very limited in Hong Kong, particularly for the youngest cohort, though it is may be due to the life course effect (it takes some time). High inequality may coexist with high mobility. While education serves as an important avenue for an individuals upward social mobility, it provides little help to address the overall inequality at the society level.

27 Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HK-PSSD, ) Strategic Public Policy Research

28 Vision Building an important infra-structure for social science research in Hong Kong. Facilitating comparative study of Chinese societies (Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland [or selected regions, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong]). Training next generation of survey/quantitative social scientists in the region of Great China;

29 Mission To establish the first-ever household panel for data collection at both household and individual levels in Hong Kong. To track socioeconomic changes and their impact on peoples life, and provide an empirical basis for public policy formation to address social problems in Hong Kong. a long-time project: 2-wave surveys within the first- five years ( ); will seek funding beyond 2014.

30 Public Policy Implication Panel data are particularly useful in identifying causes of social problems for policy intervention. The first panel data collection of this kind (PSID since 1968 housed at Michigan) was indeed originated from U.S. War on Poverty in 1960s. HK-PSSD is population-based representative survey, including but not being limited to topics on poverty/inequality and families in Hong Kong. The panel data will become a comprehensive vehicle for many economic and social research related to public policy in Hong Kong.

31 Topics for Policy Analysis Income and poverty dynamics; Intergenerational studies; Socioeconomic inequality; Child development; Fertility, marriage and migration; Family and subjective wellbeing; Retirement and aging. And among others.

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34 Thank You! Center for Applied Social and Economic Research (CASER), Hong Kong Univ of Science & Technology For Inquiry:


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