Spatial Mismatch, Different Labor Markets and Precarious Employment: The Case of Hong Kong

Shuheng JIN, Tianzhu NIE, Ngai PUN, Duoduo XU*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


Spatial mismatch theory argues that geographic barriers have significant adverse effects on (un)employment, especially with respect to disadvantaged workers. Existing debates on spatial mismatch have focused on its influence on unemployment, but few studies have paid attention to the impact of spatial factors on increasingly precarious employment in today’s labor market. Using data from four waves of the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HKPSSD), the 2011 Population Census and the 2016 Population By-census, this study aims to investigate the effects of spatial mismatch on precarious employment in the low- and high-skilled labor markets in Hong Kong with multi-leveled modeling. The results suggest that with higher levels of spatial mismatch, workers in the low-skilled labor market are more likely to be in precarious employment. In the high-skilled labor market, sub-degree holders are also more likely to engage in precarious employment. Even worse, spatial mismatch in Hong Kong has deteriorated over time. Based on these results, we offer policy recommendations and show how the study of spatial mismatch can inform policymaking. Overall, we contribute to the literature by demonstrating that spatial mismatch can lead to precarious employment among employed workers and has differentiated effects on low- and high-skilled labor markets.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge funding support from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (General Research Fund, 16600218) and the University of Hong Kong (Startup Fund, 006029001), both to Xu. The data used in this study was from the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HKPSSD). The data collection was funded by the RGC-CPU Strategic Public Policy Research Scheme (HKUST6001-SPPR-08) (2009-2014) and the RGC Collaborative Research Fund (C6011-16GF) (2017–2020) (PI: Xiaogang Wu). We thank Prof Xiaogang Wu of NYU-SH for granting us access to these data. All correspondence should be directed to Duoduo Xu (email:, Department of Sociology, The Jockey Club Tower, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong SAR.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Spatial mismatch
  • Precarious employment
  • High-skilled
  • Low-skilled
  • Hong Kong


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