Poverty in old age: Evidence from Hong Kong

Lih Shing CHAN, Kee Lee CHOU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The Hong Kong population will age rapidly over the next three decades and the entailing problem of old-age poverty will put the Hong Kong government to test. While the government has been using a solely income-based measurement, the main purpose of this study is to assess poverty rates among Hong Kong's older population in terms of both income and consumption-based measurements by using both relative and absolute concepts of poverty. It also examines the association of socio-economic and household characteristics with elder poverty rates. A two-stage stratified sample design was adopted. A total of 4,306 older adults were personally interviewed in their homes, yielding a response rate of 66.2 per cent. This study contributes to the larger study on poverty in Hong Kong by revealing how income and consumption poverty rates may differ among older adults. Older adults who were both income and consumption poor were more likely to be female, widowed, living alone and to have received less than an elementary school-level education. They possessed very few assets and were most likely financially dependent on family support and welfare payments. To understand fully the economic wellbeing of older adults in Hong Kong, this study proposes that joint distribution of income and consumption poverty can better identify and explain the demographic characteristics of the poor older adults. Implications of the study are discussed based on the neo-liberalist approach that the Hong Kong government has taken in welfare provisions. Copyright © 2016 Cambridge University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-55
JournalAgeing & Society
Issue number1
Early online dateAug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


Chan, L.-S., & Chou, K.-L. (2018). Poverty in old age: Evidence from Hong Kong. Ageing & Society, 38(1), 37-55.


  • Consumption
  • Hong Kong
  • Income
  • Poverty
  • Wealth


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