Monday, September 28, 2009

Spreading Wealth Gap

I read in the newspapers the following statistics.

In 1997, there are 68,000 families (= 3.5% of all families) in Hong Kong with monthly family income above HK$80,000. In 2008, the number has increased by 63%, to 111,000 (= 5.7% of all families). It may not be a bad statistics by itself.

However, in the same period, the number of families with monthly income below HK$8,000 has also increased from 265,000 (= 13.8% of all families) to 442,000 (= 19.4% of all families), an increase of 67% in numbers.

Clearly, the gap between the poor and the rich in Hong Kong is getting bigger and bigger. It cannot be good for Hong Kong. It is not something to be proud of. It is a source of discontent in society. It is a warning sign that we ignore to our own peril.


Anonymous said...

I had a brief chat with Chok Ki the other day - who defined the poverty line to be half the amount of the medium (am I correct?)? Do you know - is it an international benchmark? Ann

StephenC said...

Yes, that is the definition used in Hong Kong. It is a relative definition which is commonly used but by no means universal.

A common international benchmark (of poverty) is one US dollar per day in 1993 purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP means how much local currency (e.g., HK$) is needed to buy the same amount of stuff that 1 US$ buys in 1993 in the USA. Complicated, right?