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In September 2013, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region established Hong Kong’s first official poverty line. The new poverty line is used as a major yardstick in social welfare policy formulation and in the allocation of public resources aimed at combating poverty; despite its importance, however, its robustness has not been examined. Using data from the 2011 Population Census, we examined the robustness of the official poverty line in measuring child poverty in Hong Kong through assessing the sensitivity of child poverty measures to the choice of different equivalence scales. The results show that the child poverty profile in Hong Kong is generally not sensitive to the choice of equivalence scale and that the official poverty line correctly identifies those children who live in poverty. Rates of child poverty among boys and girls of different ages, with different family backgrounds and living in households with different compositions, were calculated and ranked using different equivalence scales; these rankings were found to be very similar to those yielded by the official poverty measure. Thus, the choice of adult equivalence scale does not favour any subgroup. We also examined the child poverty profile in Hong Kong based on the official poverty measure and with our 2011 census data. We found that the children in our sample were more likely than the adults to live in poverty household; that more than half of the children who lived in poverty belonged to working poor families; and that children living in public housing were particularly likely to suffer from severe poverty. In light of these findings, we urge the government to prioritise taking measures aimed at lifting children out of poverty.
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- Measuring Child Poverty in Hong Kong: Sensitivity to the Choice of Equivalence Scale
Kelvin Chi-Kin Cheung
- Springer Netherlands
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