Academics have released a study which they say explodes the myth that Hong Kong's poor are unemployed, live on welfare and come from the mainland. The study by City University shows that 74.6 per cent of low-income families have one or more family members who are working and more than half receive no government welfare payments. Only 29 per cent of households had a member from the mainland. City University's Social Studies Department lecturers Wong Hung and Lee Kim-ming, who carried out the survey, said it debunked misconceptions about the poor. 'Most of the families we found were what I call 'working poor',' Mr Wong said. 'They are mostly born and raised in Hong Kong, not from the mainland, and many do not get a penny from the government and prefer to make a living on their own.' About 67 per cent of 3,086 low-income households interviewed had less than $3,750 per person to spend each month. The study is based on interviews with the families between September 1999 and January last year. Thirty-seven per cent have only one family member who is working; 25 per cent have two people working and 12.6 per cent have up to three in the workforce. About 58 per cent of low-income households do not receive any subsidy from the government. Families on welfare are allowed to work but welfare payments are deducted according to a complex formula - the net result is that the more a family earns, the less it will receive from the government. 'If you earn several thousand dollars a month from work, it would mean you get only a few hundred dollars from government welfare, so you might as well not work,' Mr Wong said. About 39 per cent of poor households said members frequently avoid travelling even on buses; 33 per cent do not turn on lights for most of the night to save on electricity bills; 32 per cent said they do not give out lai see during Lunar New Year. The survey's results were released in two phases - yesterday and last month. Last month it released data to support a poverty line set at $3,750 per person from a ratio of a person's monthly spending on food to his or her total spending, based on data from the families interviewed. It claimed if this poverty line was adopted, Hong Kong would have 449,000 families living below the line, which would account for 28 per cent of total households. Of these, 110,000 households, the poorest of the poor, could end up having just $24 a day for food for each person. Director of Social Welfare Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday repeated the long-held policy that there was no need to set up an official poverty line. 'Our current welfare system determines the needs of each family well enough without having to introduce a poverty line, which is inflexible and does not take care of different circumstances,' she said.