Welfare Stigma Needs to be Addressed to Protect the Incomes of Hong Kong Older Adults

Stefan KÜHNER*, Kee Lee CHOU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsPolicy or Profession paperPolicy


Summary of key findings:
• Based on a representative survey of 3,802 Hong Kong older adults, the study finds that the take-up rate of old-age CSSA, higher OALA and normal OALA has significantly improved over the last decade. Nevertheless, between 11% and 14% of eligible Hong Kong older adults for these benefits fail to receive them.

• The perceived insufficiency of the benefits, difficulties in the application procedure, time and effort in searching for information, and transaction costs were significantly associated with the non-take-up of oldage CSSA among eligible recipients. To increase the take-up rate of old-age CSSA further, the benefits stigma related to this scheme must also be reduced.

• The perceived insufficiency of the benefits and transaction costs were found to be significant correlates of non-take-up of higher OALA. In comparison, personal stigma and stigmatization by the public increased nontake-up of higher OALA, but not claim stigma. Transaction costs were the strongest predictor of non-take-up of normal OALA, followed by the application procedure's perceived difficulties. By contrast, the perceived insufficiency of the benefit, information costs, and stigma-related factors were not significantly associated with the non-take-up of normal OALA.

• Despite the recent success in increasing take-up rates, the study proposes various measures to reduce further the stigma and administrative burdens associated with existing cash benefit programmes for Hong Kong older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalIPS Policy Brief
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

This research project (Project No.: 2019.A5.055.19B) was funded by the Public Policy Research Funding Scheme from the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office (PICO), ‘To Claim or Not to Claim: Towards a Better Understanding of the Take-up Rates of Welfare Schemes Targeting Hong Kong Older Adults and the Stigma Attached to Them’.

The Research Team would like to acknowledge the contribution of all the participants who were involved in this project as well as the effort made by all research assistants and interviewers. It should be noted that all policy recommendations made in this study are proposed by the Research Team.


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