When means-testing meets work-testing: A multi-level institutional analysis of claiming in-work benefits in Hong Kong

Tat Chor AU YEUNG, Hung WONG, Vera TANG, Siu Ming CHAN, Yin ZHANG

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

Abstract

While there is a growing body of literature on the lived experiences of people in poverty, their interaction with the welfare delivery system at different levels is still under-theorised. This article presents a multi-level institutional framework to qualitatively study the low-income families' experiences in claiming in-work benefits (IWBs). Considering the Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) in Hong Kong as an extreme case of IWB's residualism and productivism, the findings suggest that LIFA claimants faced cycles of counter-productive re-assessment in their everyday frontline practices, and underwent organisational barriers in workplaces and families in collecting the proofs required by the means-testing and work-testing procedures. These experiences were linked to Hong Kong's macro-systemic contexts that prioritised long working hours and strict targeting of low-wage breadwinners. This study contributes to the literature by linking social policy implementation and welfare delivery to claiming experiences, and empirically reveals the complexities of IWBs using means-tests and work-tests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-470
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Volume33
Issue number2
Early online date11 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Akademikerförbundet SSR (ASSR) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • Hong Kong
  • in-work benefits
  • lived experience
  • social welfare policy
  • welfare claimants
  • welfare delivery
  • working poverty

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