• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 4:32pm
NewsHong Kong
SOCIETY

Hong Kong's elderly 'among poorest in developed world'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 8:36am

Hong Kong's elderly are not only the poorest people in the city, they are among the poorest in the developed world.

Close to a third of people aged 65 and over are classified as poor, according to calculations released by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service yesterday.

Among 30 developed economic regions listed in a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, this is second only to South Korea, where the figure is about 45 per cent.

The figure prompted a fresh call by the council for action on a universal pension scheme.

"We'd like to again urge the government to stop studiously investigating whether a universal pension is needed and take action now," director Christine Fang Meng-sang said.

According to the figures, based on 2012 census statistics, the overall poverty rate - defined as people having equal to or less than half of the median monthly household income - was still the same as 2011, at 17.1 per cent. But the number of people in poverty grew from 1.51 million to 1.61 million . The number of elderly people in poverty grew by 10,000 to 298,000, or 32.6 per cent of the age group.

The poverty rate among people over 65 is 28 per cent in Mexico, 22.4 per cent in the United States, 10.3 per cent in Britain and 1.5 per cent in New Zealand, according to the OECD report.

We'd like to again urge the government to stop studiously investigating whether a universal pension is needed and take action now

"Hong Kong's elderly poverty is considered very serious internationally," council business director Chua Hoi-wai said, adding that retirement protection in the city was underdeveloped and non-comprehensive.

The Mandatory Provident Fund - where bosses and staff contribute to a retirement fund capped at a combined HK$2,500 a month - was grossly inadequate for retirement, Chua said, adding that it did not cover part-time and casual workers or homemakers. He said the most obvious victims were women, as many did not hold full-time jobs and lived longer than men.

The number of working poor families increased from 185,000 to 191,000 last year - even though 80 per cent of these households had at least one member with a full-time job. One in every five children was poor.

The council said more than half of working poor families were marginal, with household incomes 10 per cent or less below the poverty line.

"A subsidy of only 10 per cent of those families' median household income will lift half of them out of poverty," Fang said.

The council has concluded that if the government spent HK$4.8 billion on this subsidy it would benefit 740,000 people and lift 190,000 out of poverty - including 60,000 children. The poverty rate would fall from 17.1 per cent to 14.3 per cent, it said.

Share

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
18

This article is now closed to comments

mercedes2233
Many of the projects that the Govt had proposed had been vetoed by the public. So what is there to do?
mercedes2233
Are you speaking from knowledge or just guesswork? The previous writer gave us only anecdotal evidence which did not match with published papers on the subject. Since you asked, another report about US poverty says "More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation's destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks." That is below HKD15,347 per month for a family of 4! Does that show "US poor lives so much better because of society's high sense of equality"? I object to statements only when they are factually untrue, which yours certainly is, when the Internet is available for research which you haven't done. "Admit it" yourself, please.
johnyuan
I admit that I didn't get on the website searching for 'facts'. I depended on my general sense especially not seeing white / grey haired folks hauling on the streets for a living in US cities. Secondly the living standard is higher in the US yet basic living expanse is lower than Hong Kong making poverty even less so than expansive Hong Kong. If you go by statistics only, you would run against what you see and what common sense would actually tell you. Hong Kong government for years had play with statistics in order to win the dubious honor of being The Freest Economy handed out by The Heritage Foundation. Statistic without examination and questioning can lie. So beware. Again no lecture is intended with all my guesswork.
donniemcm
Again time consuming and money wasting into getting pushing open door statistics.
Last time they spent this time and money was to access that there weren't enough flats for HK people. Or that there were "a lot" of subdivided flats.
By just seeing that some people need to queue around 5 to 10 years to get a gov housing and that subdivided flats exists by itself is already enough to take action and remedy.
SpeakFreely
If ur returnee u you should understand the system here is designed for the elite. Most of the working poor has no pension plan, despite low tax, but high rent, high cost of living, they won't have enough saving to get old. The system is designed to put all profits to biz and government via property related biz. Either you are making great money or you are a civil servant with pension, you will be poor when getting old. Even you are not old, most of the cost of your restaurant eat out, your shopping etc are eaten up by rent. That's why in US things are so cheap to buy and eat. But HK slavry system is not very respecting the working class people normally people don't tip much when eating out, vs here we tip 20% in USA. So the working class has more money.
mercedes2233
I just checked on the economy of the US. "Nationwide, the count of America's poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population." The number of white single mothers living below the poverty line is now equal or exceeds as that of colored single mothers, 63% of whites call the economy 'poor', half of the Americans in 2009 have NO assets, etc. The US situation is hardly any rosier than that of HK. So don't lecture us on what HK-ers should or should not do.
johnyuan
Point missed mercedes2233. US poor lives so much better because of society's higher sense for equality. High % of poor is measured against high standard. Hong Kong lacks such sense. Hong Kong people more like to see to punish the poor because strangely they are poor. Admit it and don't take it as another lecture that you object.
Shadow
Our this leaders will make SAR most corrupt and worse place on globe very soon
Every official and law makers are filling their pockets with corruption money.
SAR citizens are getting hopeless day by day

Pages

Login

SCMP.com Account

or