Gap between rich and poor gets even wider, figures show

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong's wealth gap continued to widen last year, the latest government statistics reveal.

The average household income of the top-earning 10 per cent of the population was about HK$104,900 a month, up from HK$97,600 in 2009, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

But the lowest-earning 10 per cent of households received just HK$2,500 per month, the same as they did two years ago.

Statistics since 2004 show that while the incomes of the city's poorest have slowly declined, the wealthiest have seen their earnings grow by about 20 per cent.

In 2004, the bottom 10 per cent of households earned an average of HK$2,600 a month, HK$100 more than they do today. The highest earners averaged HK$83,800, about HK$20,000 less than last year.

Other income groups saw a marginal increase in income last year.

Dr Ho Wing-chung, assistant professor of social studies at City University, said that because the figures had not been adjusted for inflation, the reality was worse for low earners.

'With inflation factored in, we can see that the poorest are making less and less money and the rich more and more,' he said. 'The poorest are the hardest hit because food prices usually lead the price increases.'

The wealth gap has been widening since the mid-1990s, Ho said. 'But the government has not done anything about it because it seems to think the gap only goes to show the poor are not working hard enough.

'There are many measures the government could have taken and can take to alleviate the wide gap, for instance giving less power to the richest and more allowances to the poorest. But whatever advice we give, they don't seem to listen.'

Poor get poorer

Poor households - the bottom 10 per cent by income - took home this much less per month last year than in 2004: $100