The politics of the minimum wage in Hong Kong

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides an account of the recent introduction of a minimum wage in Hong Kong in 2011. Traditional welfare state theories had their origins in rich democracies. We refine the theoretical arguments in accordance with the semi-democratic nature of Hong Kong. We argue that the legislation was initiated reluctantly by the business-friendly government under unfavourable economic conditions. Any subsequent concessions to labour were not attributable to labour strength or political oppositions, which were very weak. Instead, multiple miscalculations by the politically dominant business side allowed the labour movement to gain limited grounds throughout the struggle. We also apply our arguments to the case of Singapore, illustrating how welfare state theories can be adapted to less democratic systems. Copyright © 2014 Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-752
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number4
Early online date02 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Wong, M. Y. H. (2014). The politics of the minimum wage in Hong Kong. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 44(4), 735-752. doi: 10.1080/00472336.2014.906641


  • Welfare state
  • Minimum wage
  • Semi-democracy
  • Business–state relationship
  • Labour movement
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore


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