A globalizing economy, sustainable livelihoods and equality of opportunities: The case of Hong Kong

Ka Wai Maggie LAU

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This article uses the concepts of sustainable livelihoods and equality of opportunities to frame the analysis of effects of unprecedented scale of globalization and the financial and economic crises on the labour market, with severe consequences for those low-skilled workers and their dependent children in Hong Kong. Dramatic economic restructuring and social transformation have radically challenged the established structure of the welfare regime in Hong Kong. Like other East Asian economies significantly affected in the globalization era and in the midst of economic crises, Hong Kong can no longer guarantee high economic growth and low unemployment. Economic restructuring and social transformation have brought significant changes in post-industrial society. New social risks arising from increasing global and complex societies and a breakdown of traditional and informal risk-sharing mechanisms bring enormous difficulties for certain social groups. New social risks have engendered a growing demand for public services while there are only limited resources meeting the growing needs. It is widely recognized that global processes of economic change have significantly shaped national economic and social policies. Economic competitiveness gives national governments impetus to adopt a welfare pluralist approach and thus further exacerbates unequal access to public services. These policy reforms may further widen the gaps between the haves and the have-nots and contribute to a divided society. In a changing and globalizing economy of Hong Kong, the extent to which welfare restructuring attains productive employment and sustainable livelihoods and ensures equal opportunities for people's future development is the current focus of debate. Copyright © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-159
JournalJournal of Asian Public Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010



Lau, M. (2010). A globalizing economy, sustainable livelihoods and equality of opportunities: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of Asian Public Policy, 3(2), 146-159.


  • Globalization
  • Sustainable livelihoods
  • New social risks
  • Intergenerational poverty
  • Equality of opportunities