The public's changing perceptions of the condition of social welfare in Hong Kong : lessons for social development

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Journal article

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Social Policy and Administration

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Social welfare, Social development, Welfare reform, Social class, Hong Kong, East Asian welfare regime


In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, the Hong Kong government introduced welfare reforms to ease the pressure from fiscal challenges and swelling welfare rolls; at the same time, to maintain its development credentials, it made an effort to adhere to its colonial tradition on the provision of welfare. The government adopted various strategies to garner popular support for promoting economic development as the primary goal and for promoting social harmony under the concept of ‘helping people to help themselves’. This article examines Hong Kong people's changing perceptions of the condition of social welfare in the past decade. Using a multidimensional developmental welfare approach and data from two opinion surveys conducted in 1997 and 2008, the study finds that Hong Kong people expressed a relatively high level of satisfaction about their own lives, but varying degrees of reservation about the problem of poverty, government provision of social welfare, and opportunities for social mobility. As a result of the sectorally unbalanced welfare reforms, which are biased against the disadvantaged, some of these perceptions have become more negative in recent years. Socially vulnerable people, especially the lower classes, are now more critical of the condition of social welfare, and such feelings seem to be intensifying. It is thus suggested that special attention to the issue of class should be paid in social development programmes to ensure social equality and social justice.



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Copyright © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

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Wong, K. Y. T., Wan, P. S., & Law, W. K. K. (2010). The public's changing perceptions of the condition of social welfare in Hong Kong: Lessons for social development. Social Policy & Administration, 44(5), 620-640. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9515.2010.00732.x