The Effects of Old-Age Public Transfer on Older People: The Case of Social Pensions in Hong Kong

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    With the prevalence of social pensions in the Asia-Pacific region, there is fierce debate on whether they have a positive or negative impact on older people and their family members. In 2017 and 2018, two social pension schemes in Hong Kong will be reformed to enhance their beneficial impact on poverty rates in old age. The Policy Address, by the Chief Executive announced that the means-tested Old Age Living Allowance (OALA), one of the social pension schemes, will be enhanced by other measures. These reform measures provide a golden opportunity to examine the impact of social pension schemes by creating an exogenous change in the benefit level by taking advantage of an ongoing longitudinal study of older adults in Hong Kong. In this proposed study, we will examine the impact of recent changes in social pension programs on older adults and their household members in Hong Kong. Specifically, we aim to evaluate the impact of the newly introduced measures on social pension schemes on household income and expenditure, income-based and consumption-based poverty risk, material deprivation, social exclusion, upstream inter-generational transfers from adult children, labor participation intensity, life satisfaction, depressive symptoms and health indicators in households with older adults, and labor participation among household members. To achieve this objective, we will conduct the third and fourth wave survey of an ongoing longitudinal study of older adults in 2019 and 2021, respectively. These surveys follow on from the first and second wave surveys undertaken in 2015 and 2017. In addition to some basic socio-demographic and economic characteristics, we will collect data on household income and expenditure, material deprivation, social exclusion, labor participation of household members, upstream inter-generational transfers, subjective well-being, and health indicators. We will use a triple-differences approach to systematically evaluate these effects by comparing the treatment and comparison groups for each reform measure using the four waves of data. The findings of the proposed study are expected to make a substantial contribution to policy debates in Hong Kong. These debates should eventually improve the living conditions of older adults in the territory by offering concrete policy recommendations to reform support for older adults . The research will also contribute to the theoretical literature by evaluating the impact of reform on different measures of poverty, subjective well-being, and health indicators. Lastly, by examining the effect on inter-generational transfers, we will also evaluate the theories or models underlying these transfers.

    Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
    Effective start/end date01/01/1931/12/21


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