Sinking into poverty

Sinking into poverty

A study shows many young Hongkongers can barely make ends meet with low salaries and rising costs


Young protesters demand more help from the government during a rally in January.
Young protesters demand more help from the government during a rally in January.
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP
Low wages and the rising cost of living are causing many young people to fall under the poverty line, research conducted by the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) shows.

The survey - headed by Professor Victor Wong Cheong-wing and Dr Susan Su Xiqing, of the HKBU's Centre for Youth Research and Practice - conducted phone interviews with 518 people aged 15 to 24 about their standard of living.

Most respondents - 85.8 per cent - cited rising inflation as a grave concern. They said rising costs eat into their earnings, exposing them to poverty. About 73.9 per cent of young people bemoaned low wages.

The survey also found that poverty among youths had worsened. From 2001 to 2011, the median income of young people aged 15 to 24 remained HK$8,000 a month, despite year-on-year inflation. The number of young people who earned less than HK$6,000 a month in 2011 has increased by 6.6 per since 2001.

Wong said many young people were not resigned to a life of poverty, however.

"Although they hold negative views, they are quite pragmatic and believe that they can empower themselves to avoid falling into poverty," he said.

He urged the government to provide subsidies and social security in areas such as sub-degree education and transport for youngsters. Many young people, he said, needed work experience and better resumes to land well-paying jobs.

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