In Hong Kong, child poverty is a serious social problem which may lead to intergenerational poverty, but nevertheless only a few studies have examined this issue, particularly for immigrant families. Using Census data (5 %) from 1981, 1991, 2001, and 2011, we assessed child poverty rates in the past three decades and identified key variables contributing to changes in the risk of child poverty for both immigrant and local families. Our results indicate that child poverty rates in Hong Kong-born families have fluctuated between 14.3 and 15.8 % over the past three decades, while for immigrant families they have increased steadily and substantially from 18.1 % in 1981 to 36.5 % in 2001 and then to 37.5 % in 2011. We show that the increase in immigrant child poverty is associated with changes in the Hong Kong economy that have made it more difficult for such families to adapt to the host society, especially in the 1990s and that this negative effect offset the positive influence of compositional changes among this group of immigrant families in terms of parental education levels and family size. The gap between immigrant and local families in terms of child poverty risk is mainly due to the fact that during the 1990s the negative effect of contextual changes in Hong Kong was cancelled out by the beneficial impact of compositional changes for local families, but not for immigrant families where the latter effect was minimal.
Bibliographical noteThis work was funded by the Research Grant Council, Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (HKIEd 7005-PPR-12).
- Child poverty
- Hong Kong
- Immigrant family