About 1.3 million Hongkongers are living in poverty, of whom 500,000 are in severe poverty, a study claims.

500,000 found suffering in severe poverty
Magdelene Cubbon
Friday, August 02, 2013

About 1.3 million Hongkongers are living in poverty, of whom 500,000 are in severe poverty, a study claims. Academics at the Hong Kong Institute of Education researched 2011 census data and found a staggering 363,275 or 41.1 percent of the elderly, aged 65 and above, are living in either poverty or severe poverty. This age group constitutes the largest proportion of the total number of those in poverty of more than 27percent. The 18.8percent of the population in poverty represents a 1.1percent increase on the Census and Statistics Department’s 2005 figure of 17.7percent.Professor Chou Kee-lee, associate head of the Department of Asian and Policy Studies at the HKIEd, who led the study, believes the risk of poverty is greater for the most vulnerable in society – the elderly.

“About 86percent of the elderly who are living in severe poverty are either singletons or only living with their elderly spouse … the situation warrants public attention,” Chou said.

He is critical of the government’s current anti-poverty policies and warns the situation will worsen unless a universal pension scheme is introduced.

The study was based on a sample pool of 28,112 households or 5percent of the population.

It defined poverty as those living on a monthly income less than or equal to half of the median income adjusted to the household size.

The calculated poverty line, according to this sample, stands at HK$6,062 per month; the severe poverty line is HK$3,585 per month.

The study also found that of the 63,078 children, aged 17 and below, living in severe poverty, 58.9percent do not have a parent who works.

Chou sees this as indicative of the ineffectiveness of a low- income family allowance, allocated to the working poor, in helping these children.

According to the study, more than half of the workers living in extreme poverty are employed in jobs for the unskilled, while 20 percent are recent migrants from the mainland.

Chou suggests strengthening vocational training and making it available to such workers in order to allow more people to join the skilled labor market.

The findings may be compared with equivalent figures released by the World Bank two years ago.

They showed 13.2percent of the population in Thailand live in poverty.

The figure for Bangladesh is 31.5percent.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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