International labour migration : the case of Hong Kong: 勞動人口之跨國移徒 : 香港個案之研究

Lok-sang HO, Pak-wai LIU, Kit-chun LAM

Research output: Working paperWorking paper series


This paper traced the labour flows in and out of Hong Kong since the second world war using a human capital theory framework. It is shown that most of Hong Kong’s history was marked by an inflow of economic migrants. Even as a wave of politically induced emigrants emerged in the 80s the inflow of economic migrants and workers on employment visas continued, underlining Hong Kong’s increasing prosperity and contributing toward that prosperity at the same time. Because of changes in immigration regulations the number of immigrants from China dropped drastically in 1980 and further in 1983. Together with underlying demographic trends and emigration, these changes precipitated the serious labour shortage that emerged after 1987. Recently the government has relaxed its restrictions on importing labour. Yet the current labour importation scheme is fraught with many pitfalls. A per-head levy on imported labour, plus a more flexible immigration policy, are found to offer a far better longer-term solution to the secular labour shortage problem in Hong Kong.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherHong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Number of pages54
ISBN (Print)9624410089
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1991
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameOccasional Paper (Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies)
PublisherHong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


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