Is Hong Kong no Longer a Land of Opportunities after the 1997 Handover?

A Comparison of Patterns of Social Mobility between 1989 and 2007

In: Asian Journal of Social Science
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  • 1 Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • 2 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

A belief that Hong Kong is a land of opportunities for the talented and the hardworking makes many speculate that an increasing involvement of younger generations in politics in recent years results from their blocked social mobility. What remains unclear is whether new generations are indeed deprived of mobility opportunities in nowadays Hong Kong. We seek to address this issue empirically by analysing two datasets collected in 1989 and 2007. Situating our discussion against the context of the study of social mobility, we discuss our analysis from two perspectives of social mobility: absolute mobility (mobility due to structural changes) and relative mobility (mobility due to changes in social fluidity). Against a changing class structure over the set period, structural opportunities for upward mobility are actually available to the younger generations; but, seemingly, whether they could grasp such opportunities to get ahead has become more strongly dependent on their class background.