chapter  17
15 Pages

Youth and the changing opportunity structure

WithChung Yan Ip

Youth has been under intensive media spotlight. Active participation and radical behaviour in social movements among the young population have been attributed to their lack of chances for upward mobility. Although no causal relationship between their radicalism and blocked social mobility has been found, empirical results conclude the worsening labour market situations of young adults in present-day Hong Kong. Indeed, difficulties in school-to-work transition have been prevalent in many advanced economies over the past decades. What is specific in Hong Kong is that, rapid de-industrialization, massive expansion of post-secondary education and stagnation of increase in middle-class occupations within a relatively short period of time have contributed to economic instability among youth with all education levels. By using sample data of 1991 and 2011 censuses, this chapter attempts to examine the changes in labour market outcomes of young adults. It is shown that, decline in employment income and upper middle-class occupation attainment is recorded for youth in all education levels. Further analysis reveals that sectoral difference in earnings has increased over time with those in financial and business services outperformed their counterparts in other sectors. This not only points to a changing opportunity structure but also a widening gap in income distribution, which potentially brings implications to the socio-economic development and stability of Hong Kong.