chapter  2
19 Pages

After the regional and global fi nancial crises: social development challenges and social policy responses in Hong Kong and Macau


Introduction Hong Kong and Macau, like many other East Asian countries, have been experiencing enormous economic hardships due to rapid economic restructuring, especially after the Asian fi nancial crisis in 1997 and the global fi nancial crisis in 2008. Without satisfactorily dealing with the consequences resulting from the economic restructuring, “deep-seated confl icts” have driven the governments of Hong Kong and Macau very hard to try and devise new and appropriate measures to tackle these economic and social problems. Before the 1997 Asian fi nancial crisis, both governments strongly believed that rapid economic growth would eventually resolve social and economic diffi culties. However, such a growth-driven economic strategy, together with the “productivist welfare regime” typically characterised by attaching heavy weight to economic growth but ignoring the importance of social protection, has been exposed to challenges of rising unemployment and growing poverty (Lin, 2010). Wilding (2008) has rightly raised the question whether the “productivist welfare regime” is still productive in addressing heightened welfare expectations from people and handling social and economic problems resulting from rapid demographic and socio-economic changes in Asia. Moreover, political changes after the handover have also affected the development of welfare policies, and the mantras of “Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong” and “Macau people are to run Macau” have raised the public expectation for better governance and higher living standards.