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Oxfam Report Highlights Hong Kong’s 20% Poverty Rate and Widening Wealth Gap

Oxfam is an international confederation of 21 independent affiliates “that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice.” In September, Oxfam Hong Kong released its ‘Hong Kong Poverty Report 2023,’ analyzing government data from 2019-2023. It found that the overall poverty rate in Hong Kong reached 20% in early 2023, affecting over 1.36 million people. Comparing pre- and post-pandemic median monthly incomes, the poorest households now earn 57.7 times less than the richest, up from a ratio of 34.3 in 2019. This shows that, while society is returning to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery remains polarized between high- and low-income families.

The median monthly income for the poorest 10% of households dropped by over one-third to HK$2,300. In contrast, the richest 10% of households grew by more than 10% to HK$132,600. The median household income for Hong Kong only increased 1.7%.

Nearly 210,000 employed Hongkongers still live in poverty, mostly working in retail and food services. Over 40% of Hong Kong’s unemployed live in poverty. Inactive individuals in poverty exceeded 1.1 million, increasing 10.6% since 2019.

Director Kalina Tsang of Oxfam Hong Kong urged the government to adjust the city’s minimum wage, support grassroots employment, aid subdivided flat households, collaborate with businesses and NGOs on social innovation, and improve childcare. She said that, following the pandemic, wealth inequality has seriously worsened and slow recovery among poor families is alarming. Oxfam believes Hong Kong is facing structural changes that make poverty more complex. It has called on the government to narrow the wealth gap and improve conditions for low-income workers post-pandemic.

Source: Oxfam Hong Kong, September 19, 2023