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Selected Development Project
Project Title Poverty of Children Living in Immigrant Families
Principal Investigator Professor. Chou Kee Lee
Area of Research Project
Social Development
Project Period
From 10/2012 To 9/2013
  1. to examine whether children of immigrant families (with at least one parent migrating to Hong Kong from Mainland China) experience greater socioeconomic disadvantages than their counterparts in local families (where both parents were born in Hong Kong);
  2. to examine the extent to which differences in parental human capital (that is, education level and language proficiency in Cantonese and English) account for poverty disparities between children from immigrant and local families;
  3. to identify the trend in child poverty in both immigrant and local families over the past three decades and to assess factors which may explain it;
  4. to investigate the effect of the seven-year ban on the receipt of cash welfare on the employment status and wages of newly-arrived, low-skilled mothers and to identify whether such impact continues even after the ban expires; and
  5. to assess whether the introduction of the seven-year ban has increased
    the poverty rate of migrant families with poorly-educated mothers.
Methods Used
We will conduct secondary data analysis by using data obtained in Population Census 1981, 1991, 2001, and 2011. Poverty threshold is defined as half the median household income and other independent variables include basic demographic and economic indicators (such as age, sex, marital status, education level, employment status, and monthly wage), household characteristics (such as household income and size), migration-related attributes (such as place of birth and duration of residence in Hong Kong), and usual language spoken at home. Logistic regression and decomposition will be used in statistical data analyses.
Summary of Findings
  • We will identify factors contribute to child poverty in immigrant families.
  • We will examine the trend towards poverty of this vulnerable group over the past three decades and, even more importantly, will identify the factors which account for it.
  • Finally, a seven-year ban on the receipt of cash social welfare for poor families was introduced in 2004 but its effect on children living in immigrant families remains largely unknown. We will systematically examine the effect of this ban on children and their mothers.

The impacts are as follows:

  • Poverty alleviation interventions could be devised based on these findings.
  • Our findings will shed light on how child poverty in immigrant families may develop in the coming decades and hence help to develop policies or measures which might reduce it in the coming future.
  • Our results will indicate whether the seven-year residency requirement on the receipt of cash social welfare for poor families should be removed.
Selected Publications Related to the Study
  • Chou, K.L. (in press). Familial effect of child poverty in Hong Kong Immigrant Families. Social Indicators Research.
  • Chou, K.L., Chung, K.C.K., Lau, M.K.W. and Sin, T.C.H. (2013). Trend in child poverty in Hong Kong immigrant families. Manuscript submitted to Habitat International for consideration of publication.
Biography of Principal Investigator

Professor Chou is Associate Head, Department of Asian and Policy Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Before joining the Department he was Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, the University of Hong Kong.

Professor Chou has wide research interests in areas concerning geriatric psychiatry, elderly policies, population policy especially immigrant policy, poverty, welfare reform, income inequality and health policy. In the past decade, he has published over one hundred papers in  international peer reviewed journals. His research work with older adults in Hong Kong and elsewhere has gained him an international profile, with his work cited widely. Since 2009, he worked has ranked in the top one percent of scholars on the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI).

Professor Chou has conducted numerous policy research projects funded by the Research Grant Council (RGC) and the Central Policy Unit, government of Hong Kong. His current research project is a five-year study on retirement income protection in Hong Kong funded by the RGC Strategic Public Policy Research Fund. He is also working on research projects concerning child poverty of children living in immigrant families funded by the RGC Public Policy Research Fund.

Professor Chou is the Associate Editor of Aging and Mental Health, the section editor of BioMed Central Geriatrics and also a Member of the Editorial Boards of the Asian Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development and Journal of Aging Research

Funding Source
Public Policy Research Funding Scheme