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The prospects for old-age income security in Hong Kong and Singapore

Ng, Kok Hoe (2013) The prospects for old-age income security in Hong Kong and Singapore. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Family support is the central pillar of old-age income security in Hong Kong and Singapore. But demographic ageing, among the fastest internationally, implies fewer adult children to provide support, while the public pension systems remain lean even by East Asian standards. Future elderly cohorts therefore face growing risks of financial hardship. This study examines the current extent of this problem, its prospects in the coming decades, and the possibilities of pension reform. It is unique in combining historical and prospective approaches towards policy causes and effects within a comparative framework. First, it analyses work, incomes, and living arrangements among elderly persons in 1995/1996 and 2005/2006 using microdata from national surveys. Next, it models possible living arrangements, income sources, and pension outcomes for future elderly cohorts using a macrosimulation model and illustrative cases. Finally, it examines the historical factors affecting pension policy development and assesses the potential for reform. Elderly poverty is more serious than often acknowledged—three quarters of elderly persons have incomes below 40% of the median wage, including a quarter of those in work in Singapore. Children‘s transfers are prevalent and large, while co-residence boosts elderly incomes on a household basis. But co-residence is already falling. By 2030, half of elderly persons may not live with their children. Almost a third may have access to neither market income nor children‘s contributions. Pensions are estimated to replace less than a third of men‘s final wage and are equivalent to a quarter or less of the median wage for women. Although developmental policy paradigms disfavour generous public pension systems in both places, explicit policy demands by the public keep up the pressure on policymakers in Hong Kong. In Singapore, reform prospects may depend on the growth of ideational competition and the availability of policy proposals to focus public concerns and rejuvenate policy thinking.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Ng Kok Hoe
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Hills, John
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/786

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