Coping with economic disadvantage. A qualitative study of Chinese adolescents from low-income families

Ching Man LAM, Mong Chow LAM, Daniel T. L. SHEK, Vera M. Y. TANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

12 Citations (Scopus)


Using a qualitative approach, this paper examines how Chinese adolescents from low-income families cope with economic disadvantage. Thirty-five in-depth one-to-one interviews with twelve adolescents from economically disadvantaged families were conducted. The findings of the study revealed that, although the participants were growing up poor, they do not have a strong sense of poverty, or have a negative perception on poverty. Some of them even attached a positive meaning to their experience of poverty. The accounts of the adolescents revealed that there were personal (low sense of poverty), familial (support from parents and siblings), cultural (cultural interpretation on poverty) and contextual (unclear poor neighborhood boundary, weak poverty subculture) protective factors that promoted adolescent developmental resilience. The study results highlighted the distinct Chinese pattern of socialization and the impacts of Chinese cultural beliefs on poor families. The findings also illustrate the prominent role of family in helping adolescents cope with economic disadvantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-357
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes



  • Chinese adolescents
  • Adversity
  • Families with economic disadvantage
  • Chinese cultural beliefs
  • Resilience
  • Hong Kong

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