Group-Based Income Inequality in Hong Kong : An Analysis of Mainland Chinese Immigrants

Mathew Y. H. WONG*, Kin-man WAN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Despite a notoriously high level of income inequality, public discussion about the issue in Hong Kong has been largely limited to overall trends. This is partially due to a lack of fine-grained data, especially on socially relevant inequality dimensions. This study introduces the group-based inequality data set, which provides indices on inequality within and between groups based on census surveys from 1991 to 2016. Compared with past immigrants, some recent immigrants are highly educated and/or of high socioeconomic status, which has exacerbated inequality within the immigrant groups. This study further examines whether this change in immigrant profile has contributed to the surge in property prices and finds that immigrants also suffer from increasingly unaffordable housing. Overall, the article highlights a seldom-discussed dimension of inequality with reference to social groups that is expected to be a potent source of socioeconomic tension in the future.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Asian and African Studies
Early online date12 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research project (Project Number: 2019.A5.060.19C) is funded by the Public Policy Research Funding Scheme from Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • housing market
  • immigrants
  • Income inequality
  • social groups


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