The Political Effects of Economic Inequality : Evidence from Hong Kong

Shen YANG, Alfred M. WU*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

1 Citation (Scopus)


Economic inequality can have significant political-social impacts, leading to social unrest and other negative consequences. With a high level of economic inequality and a remarkably contentious society, Hong Kong offers an intriguing case for investigating the political consequence of economic inequality. Based on an original random sampling survey in 2017, this study examines the political effects of perceived economic inequality in Hong Kong from three perspectives, namely, its impacts on citizens’ preferences for redistribution, political autonomy, and social protests. This study yields several important findings. Citizens’ perceived economic inequality is positively correlated with support for government redistribution and support for political autonomy. However, perceived economic inequality is not associated with citizens’ propensity to join social protests. We find that political values and citizens’ identities influence their demand for political autonomy and propensity to join protests. Our study thus sheds fresh light on the effect of economic inequality on a developed economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-769
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
Early online date5 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

For helpful advice on the paper, we would like to thank Chen Chuanmin, Hu Peng, Hu Yue, Ji Chengyuan, Zeng Yu, and particularly Su Zheng. We also appreciate the feedback received from the 3rd Shanghai Forum on Chinese Political Economy Research at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the 2023 Lien International Conference at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Inequality
  • Political autonomy
  • Protest
  • Redistribution


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