Determinants of Poverty and Potential Alleviating Measures

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Determinants of Poverty and Potential Interventions to Alleviate Poverty in Hong Kong

Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of the University of Hong Kong has carried out a three-year study on Determinants of Poverty and Potential Intervention to Alleviate Poverty in Hong Kong from 2014 to 2018. The projected has have a discussion on three approaches:

  • Examining long-term trends in poverty in whole Hong Kong and across communities/districts;
  • Understanding psycho-socio-demographic determinants of poverty through Panel Household Survey;
  • Identifying the barriers/ difficulties of keeping the individuals in poverty nets and its facilitators of leaving the nets.

The project have launched in the Individual and general aspect respectively. Form the general level, it is found that some districts have a more serious poverty problem and their characteristics are significant difference. And then to assess poor’s accessibility to social resources and facilities. And from the individual level, it is important to investigate the changing trend of Poverty in Hong Kong, and the relationship of poverty rate and the household size as well as the determinants of family composition and the influence to next generation such as parent-children relationship, children’s learning and academic performance. Finally, the Challenges have been encountered and Action plan have been introduced.

Photo Credit : Benny Lam

Altruism and Wellbeing in Hong Kong

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A Longitudinal Study on Altruism and Well-being in Hong Kong

Background and Objectives

5350787982_7910cc0725_bWell-being has been generally agreed worldwide as more than the absence of illness and negative emotions, but also the presence of positive emotions and moods, sense of meaning, and positive functioning. According to the latest World Happiness Report, Hong Kong ranked near the mid-point in subjective wellbeing and has dropped in the past two years. We see the necessity to explore reasons behind this decrease of subjective wellbeing ranking in Hong Kong. With evidence supported from previous research, we see altruism are often regarded as the source of happiness, an important indicator of well-being, in various cultural traditions such as Confucianism and Christianity. We have therefore developed a three-year project committed to exploring the connection between altruism and well-being in Hong Kong. The current project aims to:

  • Provide a common metric for policymakers to shape and compare the effects of different policies relating to altruism and well-being;
  • Inform general public and local policymakers with a more holistic assessment of progress level of our society, and;
  • Generate crucial information for examining the relationships between altruistic behaviours and well-being.


Focus Group

To better understand how people perceive and their experience on altruistic behaviours in Hong Kong, we kicked off the project by inviting people from diverse social-economic background to share their thoughts on this matter in a focus group.Focus Group

We have held a total of 6 focus groups back in late 2015. A total of 35 participants from a wide range of occupations and ethnicity participated the focus group in either Cantonese, English, or Mandarin. The discussion among participants generated invaluable ideas and information on the topic and had enriched our understanding of altruism in Hong Kong. We express our greatest appreciation to those who participated in the study.

The research team have now completed all transcriptions in verbatim and have conducted a preliminary thematic analysis. The results are encouraging and will surely enhance our understanding of altruism in Hong Kong,

Experimental Study

The best way to determine the causal relationship between Altruism and Well-being is by doing a randomised controlled experiment. The current project utilised advantages of an experiment and adopted an innovative method in engaging participants in the experiment. We have developed a mobile application named Helppiness that combines both research and services elements in altruism. The App is first of its kind in Hong Kong, featuring functions such as access to the latest volunteering, fundraising, donation, and informal helping information, as well as a personalised user profile to keep track of their participations of altruistic behaviours and well-being status.HKU Breifing

Briefing at University of Hong Kong

Participant recruitment started in May 2016 and lasted two months. We have recruited more than 340 participants in total for the study and all were invited to attend briefing sessions prior to the start of the study. The first briefing session was held in HKU on the 28th June. During the session, our centre director Prof. Paul Yip and his research team introduced “Helppiness” to the public for the first time, marking the official launch of the app.

CTF BreifingBriefing at Chow Tai Fook Training Centre

The research team also held another briefing session at Chow Tai Fook Training Centre for their staff members. All attendees were very supportive and display enthusiasm towards the study. We are very grateful for all the supports from all study participants.

Future Plans

We continue to invest resources in improving and connecting with various stakeholders to enhance our service in “Helppiness”. In near future, we aim to:

  • Launch English Version of “Helppiness”
  • Make “Helppiness” publically accessible.
  • Promote “Helppiness” and altruism in general in publicity events

If you would like to try out “Helppiness”. Please search “Helppiness” on Play Store for Android user or App Store for iPhone user (Please note the app is currently accessible by invitation only).

If you are current “Helppiness” user, please visit our Helppiness Page for more details and resources.

Panel Survey

Panel SurveyA two-wave panel survey is scheduled to be conducted in 2016 and 2017 respectively. We aim to assess the general Hong Kong population’s participation rates in different types of altruistic behaviours and examine the potential benefits from these altruistic behaviours.

The first wave of the panel survey has started in July 2016. We are expecting to receive the first set of data in December.

Demographics of Older Adults in Hong Kong

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A Study on the Demographics of Older Adults in Hong Kong

Eldery 2Hong Kong with a population of 7.1 million, has undergone major demographic changes. The persistent low fertility rates and rising life expectancy push its population age structure to shift towards the older end of the age spectrum as experienced in many western countries.  In 1980, just one in fifteen of the population was above age 65. In 2006, this ratio increased to one in eight. By 2040, over a quarter of the population – 26 per cent – will be age 65 and above [Census et al. (2010)]; more than double the current level of 14 per cent. This rapid increase of aging population in Hong Kong concerns policy makers, health service provides, and researchers with elderly wellbeing and health condition.

Elderly health is influenced by multiple factors at both individual and area levels. There is an emerging need for a better understanding of the individual- and area-level determinants (for example, the proportion of single older adults household, home ownership proportion, unemployment rate, married proportion, proportion with Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), medium household income, mortality and morbidity level, etc) of health outcomes amongst the elderly in Hong Kong.

This Project aims to provide:

  1. An update of the socio-demographic profile of older adults (e.g. size, marital status, singleton, dependence ratio etc) in Hong Kong, the past, the present and in the future (1981-2041).
  2. An analysis of the socio-economic status, health condition and their spatial distribution of older adults in Hong Kong to identify socio-determinants of the health outcome in the community.
  3. An analysis of poverty, mental illness and other morbidity and mortality pattern and its spatial distribution of older adults in Hong Kong such that clusters, hotspots can be identified to facilitate services planning in the community.

Hong Kong Altruism Index Survey 2014

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2014 Hong Kong Altruism Index Survey

The CSRP team has developed and completed the first Hong Kong Altruism Index Survey (HKAIS) as a part of the Bless Hong Kong Campaign. The study aimed to conduct an in-depth investigation of altruistic behaviors in Hong Kong. It developed an Altruism-Index that can comprehensively capture Hong Kong residents’ altruistic behavior patterns and their profiles. It also measured motives and perceived benefits of altruistic behaviors, and investigated reasons for and barriers to participating in these behaviors. In addition, it assessed respondents’ subjective well-being, social trust, and opinions with poverty alleviation, and explored these factors’ relationships with altruistic behaviors in Hong Kong.

Based on the 1,104 Hong Kong residents who completed the HKAIS, Hong Kong is a place full of kindness.  Close to 95% of the respondents have participated in at least some kind of altruistic activity in the past year, and about a third reported having done more than three kinds.

Almost all respondents (97%) thought that helping others is a source of happiness to certain level.  Participants in altruistic activities consistently reported greater satisfaction with life, health, family, and job than non participants.

Phenomenon of Divorce in Hong Kong

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A Study on the Phenomenon of Divorce in Hong Kong

hand-83079_1280Divorce is increasingly common in Hong Kong but systematic studies on the phenomenon have been rare. The Hong Kong University Family Institute (HKUFI) started a Project on Children in Divorce Families in late 2010, collecting data from 900 cases, 300 each from 1999, 2004 and 2009 with the approval and assistance of the Family Court. The collection, coding and draft analysis of data was completed in late 2012.

In the light of the increase of divorce cases and their profound impact on children and families, The Family Council sponsored the Department of Social Work and Social Administration and CSRP of the University of Hong Kong to conduct a study titled “A Study on the Phenomenon of Divorce in Hong Kong” in May 2012 and has asked the Central Policy Unit to help commission and oversee the study.

This is a comprehensive study where both quantitative and qualitative data have been adopted to examine this issue.  It aims to identify and understand the demographic and socioeconomic patterns and the trend of divorce, the risk and protective factors, the impacts of divorce on the affected individuals and the needs of divorced families in Hong Kong.

This study used several research methods to optimize the understanding of the divorce phenomenon in Hong Kong.  Aside from conducting a thorough literature review on divorce issues and interventions in other countries, we have included three other research methods: (i) a study of the demographic and socioeconomic profiles of divorced people and their families based on data collected from the Family Court and Census and Statistic Department, (ii) interviews of forty-one people who were considering divorce, filing for divorce, or already divorced, and those in marital conflicts, and (iii) two focus groups with frontline professionals who were handling divorce cases.  The quantitative analysis was based on (i) a total of 1,200 case files obtained from the Family Court (900 case files were collected by the HKUFI, and 300 additional cases in 2011 were captured for a close surveillance of the recent development), and (ii) three Census year micro-set data (2001, 2006 and 2011) for tracking the phenomenon at a macro scale.

Evaluation of Cyber Youth Outreach Projects

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Evaluation Study of Pilot Cyber Youth Outreach Projects

The 21st century so far has seen rapid growth in the use of the Internet by children and young people. There is a need to take a pioneering and proactive approach to address the changing needs of this group, in particular at-risk and “hidden” young people, using Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In view of this, in 2011, proposals were invited from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for three Pilot Cyberyouth Outreach Projects (PCYOPs). The aim was to develop an integrated service delivery model or protocol that would be flexible enough to address the ever-changing needs of contemporary young people while interfacing with, supplementing, and complementing existing youth services, networks, and platforms and enabling collaboration with other stakeholders. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong was also commissioned by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government in 2011 to conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of all three PCYOPs, with a view to recommending the way ahead for cyberyouth work.

reading-767919_1280The study adopted a mixed methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of the three PCYOPs, namely Caritas’ Search’n’Care Project, BGCA’s VR Nite Cat fbI Project, and HKFYG’s eTouch Cyberyouth Outreach Project. Its aims were:-

  • To assess and compare the feasibility, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of the web-based service models adopted by all three PCYOPs in terms of social work intervention in the Internetrelated needs and problems of young people;
  • To recommend an integrated web-based service quality model that could be integrated with traditional youth services to tackle the ever-changing needs of contemporary young people; and
  • To consider Internet-related ethical and privacy issues and make recommendations for resolving them.

Assessing Socioeconomic Costs of Drug Abuse

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Assessing the Socioeconomic Costs of Drug Abuse in Hong Kong SAR

The use of illicit drugs involves a large number of adverse health and social consequences. There is a strong interest in the development of scientifically accredited and reliable estimate of the socioeconomic costs of drugs, alcohol and tobacco worldwide. Knowledge on the amount of resources expended associating with drug abuse informs decisions relating to policy formulation, funding allocation and interventions on anti-drug abuse.

To date, there have Drug addiction 1been studies attempting to figure out the socioeconomic costs of drug abuse in Hong Kong.  However, due to the lack of systematic and consistent analytical framework in defining costs, none of these provided a complete and consistent estimate of the socioeconomic costs of drug abuse in Hong Kong. Thus, there is a need to understand the definition of costs and the available analytical framework on cost estimation in the field of drug abuse such that reliable and comparable cost estimation can be made.

This study aims to develop a conceptual framework for the estimation of socioeconomic costs of drug abuse in the context of Hong Kong. More specifically, there are four major objectives the project hopes to achieve with the framework in reducing the risk of drug abuse or illicit drug use in Hong Kong:

(1) a reliable estimate of socioeconomic costs helps to prioritize drug abuse issues on the public policy agenda;
(2) it provides useful information for targeting specific problems and policies;
(3) it helps to identify information gaps, research needs and desirable refinements to statistical reporting systems;
(4) it enhances the development of a more comprehensive and reliable framework in conducting economic evaluation on policies and programmes at reducing the harm associated with the use of illicit drugs in Hong Kong.