Meeting the best interests of Hong Kong children? Inequality, fairness and well-being in a rich global city

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Although there is an increasing recognition of the policy advocacy value of measuring children’s own views of their daily lives, there is still a dearth of systematic approaches to ‘hearing the voices’ of children across Asia. The predominant focus on average measures of child deprivation and well-being in comparative research means there is a relative lack of knowledge of the distribution of these outcomes within Asian societies, and whether
existing inequalities arise from a position of equality of opportunity. Drawing on the measures and analyses compiled for UNICEF’s Report

Card 13, and utilising a unique local dataset on the self-reported conditions for a good life in Hong Kong, this paper discusses the degree to which children in Hong Kong are allowed to fall behind their peers in three well-being domains (income, health and life satisfaction). We find that household income is generally not a good predictor of the most disadvantaged children in Hong Kong as some parents that experience income poverty sacrifice their own needs for their children. Child deprivation matters for children’s probability of falling behind their peers in regards to physical activity and life satisfaction, but not for healthy eating. The latter,
however, is strongly influenced by Hong Kong children’s relationships to their parents, their
connectedness to teachers, and existing family support networks. Our findings therefore point
towards a stronger social gradient in child well-being in Hong Kong than is usually suggested
in studies focusing solely on educational proficiency and attainment. These findings are particularly relevant considering the leading global city status and continuing productivist welfare policy focus in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2018
EventThe 15th East Asian Social Policy Research Network Annual Conference: Social Policy in Post-Growth East Asia - University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jul 20186 Jul 2018


ConferenceThe 15th East Asian Social Policy Research Network Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • inequality
  • social gradient
  • child well-being
  • Hong Kong


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