Rule of thumb:

Tim, pls find time to read Great ideas!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FT in week 11

1:11 PM

Poverty blights the dream of Hong Kong
By David Pilling / Published: March 17 2010 23:28

Mr Tam, a retired light-bulb maker who came to Hong Kong from mainland China in the 1960s, is one of an estimated 100,000 people in the territory who reside in cubicle-sized apartments.

In a city of 7m people with an average per capita income of nearly US$30,000, 1.23m live below the poverty line, earning less than half of a desperately low median wage. The city’s Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, is the worst in Asia (worse even than India and mainland China) before the limited effects of the city’s half-hearted income redistribution are counted.

In the 1980s, when many Chinese were drawn to the territory’s booming economy, there were an estimated 1m manufacturing jobs in Hong Kong, according to Chua Hoi Wai of Hong Kong’s Council of Social Service. That number has fallen to 200,000 as jobs have seeped across the border. Factory wages have fallen from US$1,300-US$2,500 a month in the heady 1980s to as little as US$700. The median wage has not budged in a decade, says Mr Chua, while those of the mid- and top-earners have soared.


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