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Results of 2015 Study on Earnings Mobility released

     The Government today (May 20) released the results of the 2015 Study on Earnings Mobility. The key results were presented to the Commission on Poverty (CoP) at its meeting held on April 25.

     The Study, the fourth of a series of similar studies in recent years, was carried out by the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit of the Financial Secretary's Office in collaboration with the Census and Statistics Department, using data from the Inland Revenue Department and the Student Finance Office of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency. The Study analysed the earnings mobility of post-secondary graduates from grass-roots families in Hong Kong. The target groups comprised post-secondary graduates from the 2001/02, 2006/07 and 2011/12 academic years who had received means-tested student finance. The key findings are:

* Substantial upward earnings mobility was enjoyed by first degree graduates from the 2001/02 and 2006/07 cohorts. Specifically, for the 2001/02 cohort, the median graduate could rise by eight income categories within 10 years (where each income category covers 1/20th of the overall income distribution).

* Looking beyond the median, for first degree graduates, 62 per cent of the 2001/02 cohort could reach the 80th percentile of the income distribution or higher within 10 years, and 80 per cent could reach the 70th percentile or higher.

* Sub-degree graduates or below for the 2001/02 cohort also enjoyed substantial upward earnings mobility: the median publicly funded graduate could rise by eight income categories within 10 years, while the median self-financing graduate could rise by 10 categories.

* Degree graduates for the 2001/02 cohort had better long-run earnings prospects than sub-degree graduates or below. Of the 2001/02 graduates who started in the middle quintile (the 41st to 60th percentiles) of the income distribution, 28 per cent of publicly funded and 39 per cent of self-financing sub-degree graduates or below could reach the top quintile (the 81st percentile and higher) by 2013/14. For first degree graduates and postgraduates, these percentages were 64 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.

* The 2006/07 cohort had slightly lower upward earnings mobility than the 2001/02 cohort. Among first degree graduates, the proportion of the 2001/02 cohort exhibiting upward mobility within five years was 89 per cent, versus 81 per cent for the 2006/07 cohort. Among publicly funded sub-degree graduates or below, these percentages were 89 per cent and 82 per cent respectively. For self-financing sub-degree graduates or below, the percentages were 93 per cent and 83 per cent.

* There was higher upward mobility amongst science and engineering graduates between 2003/04 and 2013/14, reflecting the relative demand and supply conditions.

* For more recent cohorts of first degree graduates, there was seemingly higher mobility amongst students from relatively high family income groups.

* There was higher mobility amongst men, those who remained attached to the labour force, and graduates of University Grants Committee-funded institutions (particularly those from publicly funded programmes).

     The CoP welcomed the Study, which provides an objective basis for the Government to monitor the earnings mobility of the younger generations from grass-roots families. Noting that the 2006/07 cohort has had lower upward mobility than the 2001/02 cohort, members agreed that there is a need to continue to monitor earnings mobility on an ongoing basis. In particular, members considered that the future focus should be on the more recent cohorts and the relationship between their upward mobility and the rising post-secondary participation rate of the relevant age cohort (now about 70 per cent). In order to help young people seize the opportunities brought about by social and economic development, the Youth Education, Employment and Training Task Force under the CoP will continue to explore measures which are conducive to youth upward mobility.

     More detailed analyses on the earnings mobility of post-secondary graduates of the selected cohorts are available in the information paper of the Study, which has been uploaded to the CoP's dedicated website (

Ends/Friday, May 20, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:01


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