Decomposing between- and within-group income inequality in Hong Kong: Politics, welfare, and identity

Yee Hang Mathew WONG

Research output: Other contributionOther contributions


Income inequality is often regarded as a serious issue in Hong Kong. However, important discussions about inequality are restricted to the region-wide trend and the extent of reduction achieved by government welfare. A key limitation of the current discussions is the lack of more fine-tuned data that emphasize the change in overall levels of inequality. In particular, this project examines group-based inequality, that is, inequality within each and between social groups. The rationale behind this investigation is the gradual change in the profile of immigrants, who are no longer solely considered as low-skilled people dependent on welfare but now also include a sizable group of wealthy and educated elites because of new immigration schemes. For example, Hong Kong’s residents hold a common impression that people from the Mainland (immigrants or investors) are wealthy, and this impression has contributed to the rise in property prices. Has inequality widened within the group of immigrants? How do these immigrants compare with local residents in terms of income gap? These subtle group-based dynamics may be important in understanding the tensions between social groups as well as political stability and social harmony. However, no systematic way of exploring these possibilities currently exists because of the overwhelming focus on region-wide levels of inequality in public discussion.
In view of this gap, this project uses data from census surveys to create a new group based income inequality dataset that can provide estimates of inequality within each and between social groups over time. Besides making the dataset available for public use, this project will also test if the changing trends of group-based inequality are associated with a range of social, political, and policy outcomes. The project aims to contribute to our understanding on welfare, redistribution, immigration policies, and their impact.
本研究將使用政府人口普查數據建立一個新的社會群體收入不平等數據集,對群體內部及社群之間不平等現象做出跨時間估算。除了將數據集開放使用之外,研究也將檢視有關變化與社會、政治與政策的關聯性,加深我們對於福利、再分配、移民政策的理解。Copyright © 2019 Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPolicy Innovation and Co-ordination Office
Place of PublicationHong Kong
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Wong, Y. H. M. (2019). Decomposing between- and within-group income inequality in Hong Kong: Politics, welfare, and identity. (Public Policy Research Funding Scheme Project 2019.A5.060.19C). Hong Kong: Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office.


  • Alt. title: 解構香港群體間與群體內的收入不平等:政治、福利與身份認同


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