In such a cosmopolitan city as Hong Kong, it is not uncommon to see a number of affluent parents spending a large sum of money on their children, ranging from joining calligraphic class to extra physics tutorial lessons, and from buying the most updated mobile phones for them to sending them to overseas schools. This practice is even becoming increasingly popular due to the economic boom in recent years. By contrast, despite the seemingly prosperity of this city, there still exists a number of people living in destitute, with many children and elderly not having the chance to lead a decent life which they are supposed to deserve at their age. Some critics have attributed the reasons to the ineffectiveness and inadequacy of the government’s existing measures to deal with the poverty problem. This essay is going to examine the trend and size of poverty in Hong Kong society, followed by an analysis on the usefulness of the present Social Security system to alleviate the problem. Lastly, some suggestions to improve the situation will be given. Definition of Poverty
Although poverty is so ubiquitous that people often mention this term, there is surprisingly no universally agreed definition given to it. Yet, the focus about the debate of the definition of poverty is mainly centered on whether the concept of poverty is an absolute or a relative notion (Tsoi, 2002). ➢ Absolute poverty
Absolute poverty is defined according to the level of subsistence. The level of subsistence can be objectively defined by a list of items and people living below this poverty line are considered to live in predicament (Booth, 1889 and Rowntree, 1901, 1941). ➢ Relative poverty
Relative poverty is defined according to the concept of deprivation. It is measured in a relative sense. The common standard and style of living in a society is a basis for comparison. It is generally used to indicate the kind of social inequality and income distribution (P.Townsend, 1979). The trend and size of poverty in Hong Kong society
To date, neither is there an officially agreed poverty line in Hong Kong, nor is it the intention of the government to define one. The underlying reason given by the government is that there already exist some measures to safeguard the poor. However, most of the academics and social service groups incline to adopt the relative approach. Despite the heated debates about the methods to measure poverty, an obvious conclusion that could be made from these researches is that poverty problem is serious in Hong Kong and even worsening during the past two decades. According to a research defining poverty as the level of personal income being less than 50% of the median income, there was 11.9% of the total population living in penury in 1986; while in 2001, the figure surged to 18.5% vigorously (Hong Kong Council of Social Services, 2003). Regrettably, not only had the number of citizens living in poverty risen, but the income disparity problem in Hong Kong also worsened. Gini Coefficient is an indicator used to show the income difference between rich and poor. The severity of the situation is directly proportionate to the figure. The corresponding figures for 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996 were 0.451, 0.453, 0.476 and 0.518 respectively (Tsoi, 2002). In comparison with other countries like Malaysia, China and India, Hong Kong’s situation is even worse. In order to understand reason for this worsening trend, it is prerequisite to go into details of the composition the poor and to examine each category analytically. ➢ The elderly people
Due to the development of health care and advanced medical technology, life expectancy is in the trend of increasing. By 2025, those aged 65 and above are expected to...