• Tue
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Updated: 7:57pm
NewsHong Kong

Number of poor rising in Hong Kong

Median household earnings of lowest-income group in Hong Kong is HK$3,400 a month, up just HK$400 in nine years, says Oxfam

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 7:29am


  • Yes: 81%
  • No: 19%
14 Nov 2012
  • Yes
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Total number of votes recorded: 456

The median salary of Hong Kong's top earners is HK$88,800 a month, 26.1 times the poorest 10 per cent, government figures show.

Overall, one in six people, or 17.6 per cent of 6.7 million people, struggled with poverty in the second quarter of this year, up 0.6 percentage points from last year, Oxfam Hong Kong said.

The figures, retrieved by the group from the Census and Statistics Department, show that the median household income of the lowest-income group was HK$3,400 a month. That was an increase of HK$400 in the last nine years, during which time the city's richest 10 per cent saw their median monthly income surge by HK$18,800.

In 2003, the top 10 per cent of the city's households made HK$70,000 a month - 23.3 times the lowest-paid group.

"The income gap between the rich and the poor has been increasing over the years. The number of poor people in Hong Kong has also been steady and slightly growing," said Oxfam director general Stephen Fisher. A 10-year high of 194,100 households with at least one family member working were considered poor - living on less than half the median income for city households of corresponding size. On that basis, someone who earns less than HK$3,600, or HK$8,000 for a two-member family, is considered poor.

The poverty rate among working households was 10 per cent - the second-highest rate since 2008, and the same as in 2003 and 2009.

This category covers people who are doing a full-time job, yet still make an income that leaves them unable to take care of their families, Fisher said. "I think this is a serious problem."

Between 60 and 70 per cent of working-poor households consisted of three or four family members, said Wong Shek-hung, acting Hong Kong programme manager for Oxfam, citing statistics since 2003.

She added that while 113,500 working-poor households had a monthly income lower than Comprehensive Social Security Assistance could offer, only 9.8 per cent of them, or 11,067 households, lived on CSSA.

Wong attributed this reluctance among the poor to seek the assistance to a "negative perception of CSSA recipients", which tarred those who relied on aid as lazy.

Fisher, who is on the government-appointed Commission on Poverty, said he would urge authorities to introduce a low-income family allowance for the working poor who earned less than CSSA payments but were loath to apply for assistance.

He also advocated an annual review of the minimum wage level. It is now reviewed at least once every two years.

Meanwhile, government figures released in June showed that the city's Gini coefficient - a scale from 0 to 1 on which higher scores indicate greater income inequality - reached a record high of 0.537 last year.


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HK is a place to make money or be made money. Not a place for humans.
The main problem is Hong kong does not have pension plan. The CSSA is only for people who got nothing. Also on the other hand i discovered that people love to live in these cage and coffin homes. i do not know why, but almost all of them are very happy there. Government should built more old age homes where they can provide them free accommodation and other services.
many elderly people who have been living in these cage and coffin homes, do not wish to go other place then why not provide them "elderly homes" where they can live together and happily. i am sure these people will not be happy in housing as they would not like to live in home alone.
The HK govt has the mindset of making money and accumulating huge reserves from her own people. Apart from the Govt Associates (tycoons, civil servants, welfare dependants, licensed monopolies), all other non-associate ordinary people are most likely to be exploited.
HK is a rich financial centre for the rich and the vested interest. The majority poor have to suffer either with long working hours (or two jobs) or live in poverty. Vote with your feet and leave HK for china where there is more opportunities.
Despite the intangible core values of democracy, freedom and rule of law, HK achieved the followings
- High Suicide Rates (no better than that of China, charcoal burning vs self-immolation)
- Lower Birth Rate (lower than that of China, self abortion vs forced abortion)
- Higher Rate of Mental Disorder (witnessed in public places like libraries, markets)
- Fewer number of SMILING FACES on streets in HK (in case you meet one, that must be the mainlander)
(dirty statistics but anybody who has experiences of living in both places could tell you)
then please go back to china where you belong commie
I've gone to china the moment when 99.99% HKer tacitly (and unethically)approved govt to deprive the 1.67m HK descendant mainlanders the right of abode some 11 yrs ago.
HK is a place to make money or be made money. Not a place for humans.
i am paying tax in sar since 17 years wat we can expect from govt.v basic lowu to hung hom or tst fare hkd-36.6 and even more longer route over the boundry lowu to sz airport rmb-8. is this is normal? this just one example how many others u all shud know also. people are living in cuffin houses but officials just worry for the things not related to sar benefits.how much write no one from officials have time to read this all
when i say somw thing here people think wrong way.but happens to SAR in just 14 yrs and wat more critical is going to happen.you see the situation of the sar departments from top to lowest level.u can see public transport.hospitals.how much benefit to sar.no official is questionable now
I've send out a email to some of my friends to push for changes. If you agree please cut and paste and send to your friends and politician to push for changes. Thanks.
This is how Shameful is HK having 18 people sharing a 200 sq ft. room with only one bath room, they called it a coffin home charging $1300 to 1500 a month. Coffin home is worst than Cage Home as it is much smaller. I saw the show on ATV Asia Policy Unit few days ago probably worst than the links below. It is even shameful that the poor can no longer afford the humiliating cage home now but need to go for Coffin Home of 2.5 ft by 6 ft and about 3 ft tall. That's a Coffin size. Can u believe it!
It is estimated over 20,000 live in the industrial subdivided rooms alone. Probably did not include this coffin homes. Shameful and scary HK.
I'm writing to you to ask you to reach out to your friends and politicians to push for changes.
Please pass on the email to your friends to support these poor people, or I call it "slave".
Some other links for your info.
( this one you see how government departments are saying not their responsibility)
I'm very disturbed to see we have hard working people, security guards and cooks alike, live a slave life in HK. Very Shameful.
Not only the government is doing nothing but even our elected Legco members are ignoring the issue but arguing for nonsense everyday. I have not heard a single political agenda from these politicians to fight for these poor group. But rather I am seeing they are wasting time asking officials to resign etc etc. or arguing for much less critical issues such as tearing down of the so-called illegal structures that are housing many needy people.
I don't think increase of minimum pay will solve the problem as landlord will keep raising rent. They need government help. I hope they won't wait to take a serious look until a big fire outbreak potentially kill many. It will be too late.
I think Legco needs to stop the nonsense and work with Government to set a deadline say 3 years, i hope less, to develop housing for these people.
Please reach out to your friends and your elected officials to push for this happening. To redeem HK sins.
It's a shame that the gap between the Haves and the Others is not getting any narrower. However, looking at almost the entire population with their eyes glued to their smart phones, not reading books or newspapers mind you, you would never guess that Hong Kong has a single poor person.
I don't know if u watch RTHk that 70% of youth are borrowing with credit cards by repaying min payments to use card to cover another card to buy smartphone etc .....
Right on SpeakFreely. The days when working hard and saving up to buy something that one yearns for are over, forever.
Housing and allowances are just the bare necessity. Whilst the HK tycoons, who take so much and give so little back, are allowed to force up the price of housing and food, the problems cannot be solved.
Agree there is no way out as I have been long arguing HK government is too much relying on property related income so they have to partner with developers to rip the profit. This has been a policy since the inception of HK and now is almost impossible to change. Will get worst.
I think I am dreaming but I would like to reach out to the pan democratic and labor party to focus on the housing for the needy to push government to setup a time line say within x years to get rid of the coffin and cage home, don't wait until a big fire breakout, as I just can't understand you can tolerate to see 10s of thousand of these people live like a slave...I know I am dreaming but please focus on this single issue and stop all these nonsense of asking who and who to resign etc...as all these are not benefiting the needy.
I don't think min wage increase will solve the problem because landlord will just increase the rent and they won't be able to improve their living condition without the help of government.
agree that asking officials to resign should not be the key issues to look at now. too many people are living without dignity and respect, many elderly working like a donkey. can hk government pay more attention and effort on this group of poor people? can politician do something meaningful to contribute to functional policy and campaign? we cannot wait years and years to see just a little of improvement. we are getting backward!
In order to give a little to the poor and elderly hard-working folks, we should take part of the pay from the fat-cat "politicians" and senior government servants and divert it to the poor. All of the above earn more than the president of the US and the prime minister of the UK. They don't measure up to a fraction of those two individuals, why they don't even speak properly, in both Chinese and Engish.
Thank you please readers please speak up to push both government n legco to do something no more argument for nonsense! And write to editor too. I gave up writing to Democrat that I used to vote them as they never never replied my email! Shame on them all.
Shameful HK....coffin home etc...what's our legco members doing none of them push the government to do anything to let this hard working people lives without dignity. Please focus on the issue not just argue for the sake of arguing. I think I am dreaming ....
I've learned from news that cage home becoming too luxury for poor and now they can only afford coffin home! Give me a break HK!
"Number of poor rising in Hong Kong" just becuase of poor govt managment and the policies supporting some other people not HKSAR people.so this result is coming and more worse to come in future <sorry to say>becuase now all the elected people not thinking how to support SAR but to some one else.......................................and these figures are not correct people are living much more poor life and with out basic needs in hksar
I don't really understand but I assume that this is an attempt to blame mainlanders?
yck........u r great


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