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                                                            (Oxfam/ Tai Ngai Lung)

According to the Hong Kong government’s ‘Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2015’, after policy intervention, there were 970,000 people who lived below the poverty line, while the poverty rate was 14.3 per cent. Close to half of those living in poverty lived in working poor households, while the number of seniors living in poverty increased. In 2014, there were 310,000 senior citizens living in poverty – an increase of 14,700 people from 2014. Statistics like these reflect the undeniable reality that the issue of poverty is still quite serious in Hong Kong.

Oxfam recognises that problems relevant to poverty are interconnected with other issues. For instance, without proper retirement protection, there is a big chance that workers who live on the margins of society will fall into elderly poverty after they retire. Or, without appropriate educational or occupational support, ethnic minorities will lack opportunities for upward mobility and will be more susceptible to falling into working poverty. This can begin or continue the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty and leave many to resort to applying for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, meaning society as a whole would need to bear the burden of ending poverty. As we can see, a multifaceted approach is required to address poverty. As such, it is important that the government, society and business sector work together to find solutions to poverty.

For many years, Oxfam has been pushing for pro-poor policies through research, advocacy campaigns, public education, supporting local organisations’ poverty programmes and such. Oxfam has always been actively involved in local poverty issues: from the establishment of the official poverty line and the enforcement of minimum wage, to proposing the Low-income Working Family Allowance, advocating for the abolishment of the MPF offset mechanism, and calling for greater support of ethnic minority students’ Chinese language learning.



Poverty in Hong Kong and policy view

The government announced that it would set Hong Kong’s first-ever poverty line (the 2012 official poverty line) at half of the median household income. In 2015, the poverty line for one- and two-person households was HK$3,800 and HK$8,800 respectively. While the official poverty line helped determine the severity of poverty in Hong Kong, however this method does not take into account people’s actual day-to-day needs. As such, Oxfam conducted a study on the basic cost of living; the poverty threshold calculated using the basic cost of living can be used as an additional tool to measure poverty more accurately.

Oxfam's position paper on the 2017/18 Policy Address (Chinese only, published in 2017)
Public Attitudes Towards Poverty in Hong Kong(Chinese only, published in 2017)
Hong Kong Poverty Report 2011-2015(Published in 2016)
Oxfam's position paper on the MPF offset mechanism (Chinese only, published in 2015)
Public Education: Poverty Line website (Chinese only, published in 2014)
Study on the Basic Cost of Living and the Poverty Line (Published in 2014)
Survey on the Impact of Soaring Food Prices on Poor Families in Hong Kong (Published in 2011)

Working poor

Poverty within the workforce is becoming more rampant in Hong Kong. According to our latest research in 2015, there were 182,000 working poor families locally, and the total number of people living in these households has reached 622,300.

Since minimum wage officially took effect in 2011, it has lagged behind inflation. We thus urge the government to review the minimum wage annually and make sure it can support workers’ and their families’ basic cost of living.

Research on Low-Income Casual Work in Hong Kong (Published in 2017)
Report on Hong Kong’s Working Poor 2010 - 2014 (Published in 2015)
Survey on the Living Standards of Working Poor Families with Children in Hong Kong (Published in 2013)
Trends of the Working Poor and Proposal for a Low Income Family Subsidy (Published in 2013)
Oxfam Hong Kong Poverty Report: Employment and Poverty in Hong Kong Families 2003-2012 (Published in 2013)
Before and After the Statutory Minimum Wage Ordinance in Hong Kong: Survey of Low-income Workers and their Families (Published in2012)
Position Paper on Improvement of Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme(Published in 2012)
Oxfam comments on Transport allowance scheme(Published in 2010)
Report on Hong Kong’s Working Poor 2005-2009 (Published in 2010)

(Oxfam/ Tai Ngai Lung)

Poverty among women and the elderly

According to the ‘Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2015’ in 2015, there were 310,000 people aged 65 or above who were identified as poor after policy intervention ‒ an increase of 14,700 people compared to the year before. The poverty rate within this group was 30.1 per cent; in other words, every three in ten senior citizens were living in poverty.

In the same period, there were 0.53 million females who lived in poverty; the poverty rate within this group stood at 14.9 per cent, which is higher than that of the male population (0.44 million males with a poverty rate of 13.6 per cent). Oxfam has long been concerned about the economic needs and livelihoods of these two groups.

Report on Women and Poverty(2001-2015) (Published in 2016)
A Study of Development of Bazaars and Employment Opportunities for Low-income Women (Chinese only)  (Published in 2015)
Policy Paper on the Living and Health Conditions of Poor Elderly not on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and their Attitudes towards Social Security (Published in 2010)

(Oxfam/ Ducky Tse)

Poverty among ethnic minorities and intergenerational poverty

According to  ‘Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2014’ the 2014 post-intervention poverty rate of South Asia households with children (30.8%) was still markedly higher than that of the overall households with children in Hong Kong (16.2%)

Limited Chinese language skills leave Southeast Asian children with limited occupational choices when they grow up; in fact, they are often only limted to‘3D jobs’ ‒ jobs that are dirty, dangerous and demeaning. And with the low income they make from these jobs, they are easily trapped in the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Improving their Chinese language skills can help them life themselves out of poverty. As such, Oxfam has been looking into non-Chinese-Speaking students’ needs in terms of learning Chinese, and government-related policies. We also launched a public education campaign to raise awareness about these issues.

Oxfam's Views on the Review of 'Guide to Pre-primary Curriculum' (Chinese Version Only,published in 2016)
Survey on the Enhanced Chinese Learning and Teaching Support For Non-Chinese Speaking Students in Primary and Secondary Schools (Published in 2016)
Public Education Programme ‘Do you read me? A photo exhibition on how ethnic minorities learn Chinese’ (2014)
Survey on the Chinese Learning Challenges South Asian Ethnic Minority Kindergarten Students from Low-Income Families Face (Published in2014)
Second-language education policies abroad and in Hong Kong (Published in 014)