Social differentiation and age-friendly characteristics : a case study in Tuen Mun

  • Yuen Ling, Elaine YAU

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


Hong Kong is one of Asia’s more demographically-aged cities, with 14% of population aged 65+ in 2012, projected to be 23% by 2025. Facilities and transport are generally good by world standards although the urban environment may not consistently be particularly ‘age-friendly’. Drawing on a range of urban sub-areas, this research investigated the ‘age-friendliness’ of Tuen Mun, a ‘new town’ of half a million population in Hong Kong. This study was also interested in socio-cultural variables and age-friendly cities (AFC) characteristics in its predominantly Chinese population, and relationships with psychological well-being (PWB).

A total of 503 participants aged 50 years or above were interviewed in a face-to-face questionnaire survey in Tuen Mun. Two focus groups were held afterwards as a post facto evaluation to ascertain and explain the findings of the survey. Among the WHO’s original eight AFC domains, in this study ‘Social participation’ scored the highest AFC rating. ‘Housing’, ‘Civic participation and employment’, and ‘Community support and health services’ perhaps surprisingly scored the lowest. Interestingly, the ‘higher social group’ (i.e. respondents from private housing, with a higher education attainment and household income) tended to be less satisfied with the AFC domains than the lower social group. An important contribution of this study is therefore to show the importance of considering social variations in attitudes to AFC characteristics, as perceptions/expectations of AFC might vary across different social groups. This study also addressed the potential role of AFC characteristics in influencing older persons’ PWB. AFC, especially the ‘software’ aspects related to social support, were found to have the strongest positive correlations with PWB. A newly-proposed ‘Food and shopping’ dimension appeared to be a salient factor affecting PWB, showing such ‘lifestyle’ items should be included in AFC in Asian settings. The policy implications and the value of the AFC concept in cities such as Hong Kong are discussed.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology and Social Policy
SupervisorDavid Rosser PHILLIPS (Supervisor) & Yue Lok Francis CHEUNG (Supervisor)

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