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Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2016 published
     The Government released today (February 7) the "Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2016". The key analyses were presented to the Commission on Poverty (CoP) at its meeting held today.
     Adopting the analytical framework of the poverty line endorsed by the CoP and based on the data from the 2016 Population By-census by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit of the Financial Secretary's Office in collaboration with the C&SD updated and analysed the major poverty statistics of ethnic minorities to facilitate continuous monitoring of their poverty situation. The major findings were as follows:
* In 2016, before policy intervention, there were 22 400 poor ethnic minority households and 49 400 poor people from ethnic minorities, with a poverty rate of 19.4 per cent. The corresponding figures after policy intervention (recurrent cash) were lower, at 19 500 households, 44 700 persons and 17.6 per cent respectively. Analysed by ethnic group, the poverty rate of South Asians after policy intervention in 2016 was relatively high (23.0 per cent) among ethnic groups, while their poor population was the largest (accounting for 40.1 per cent of the poor ethnic minority population).

* A comparison of the 2016 and 2011 poverty figures reveals that the ethnic minority poverty rates posted increases before and after policy intervention and, coupled with the notable growth in the overall ethnic minority population and its number of households, the size of the poor ethnic minority population and their number of households likewise increased before and after policy intervention over the period. Further analyses on the distinctive characteristics of the poor among ethnic minorities in 2016 show that in contrast to the overall poverty situation, working poverty characterised the poverty situation of ethnic minorities while the increases in their poverty rates were largely attributed to the increase in the number of working poor households.

* An examination of the causes of working poverty of ethnic minorities in 2016 showed that lower employment earnings due to lower educational attainment and skill levels of employed persons were the major causes of working poverty. Additionally, with generally larger household sizes, such employed members generally had to shoulder the family burden alone, which rendered it more difficult for them to move out of poverty even with employment, particularly so for South Asians. On the other hand, the unemployment rates among the poor population of some ethnic groups (such as Pakistanis and Nepalese) were slightly higher than that of the overall poor population. This indirectly reflects the higher incidence of these ethnic groups falling below the poverty line due to unemployment.

* While working poverty was a notable poverty characteristic of ethnic minorities, higher shares of poor ethnic minority elderly people (especially Southeast Asians like Thais and Indonesians) in the poor population of various ethnic groups were observed in 2016 when compared with 2011. As elderly people tended to be economically inactive, a higher share of the elderly in an ethnic group might push up the poverty rate.

* With higher prevalence of working households among ethnic minorities, they largely achieved self-reliance through employment and were less dependent on social assistance in the form of cash benefits. In general, the shares of non-recipients of major cash benefits (including Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance, Disability Allowance and Low-income Working Family Allowance) among the poor population of the major ethnic groups increased between 2011 and 2016. Nevertheless, in 2016, various poverty indicators after policy intervention (recurrent cash) still fared better than those before policy intervention. The provision of non-recurrent cash and in-kind benefits (primarily public rental housing) contributed further to the improvement of poverty indicators and helped relieve people in ethnic minorities of their financial burden.

* In terms of language abilities, South Asians were generally more proficient in English than in Chinese, while their proficiency in reading and writing Chinese were lower than that in conversing. South Asian children were more adept at English and Chinese than adults in the ethnic group. Furthermore, economically inactive non-school-attending South Asians were less proficient in Chinese and English than employed South Asians in general. This indicates that proficiency in Chinese and English might be one of the factors affecting their employability.

     More detailed analyses on the poverty situation of ethnic minorities are available in the "Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2016", which has been uploaded to the CoP's website (www.povertyrelief.gov.hk). The Executive Summary of the Report is also available in six ethnic minority languages (Tagalog, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Nepali and Urdu) for reference.
Ends/Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Issued at HKT 18:44
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