Research Project
Project
Date
Green housing technologies and real estate developers’ performance
2014-2016

Turning around the implementation of green technology-driven mechanism will be of both theoretical and practical significance to promote the dual missions of national urbanization strategy and low-carbon emissions. This project aims to study the key driving forces of implementing green technologies in housing construction by comparing the benchmarking enterprise with non-benchmark enterprises. Relying on the drive-response complex dynamical approach, exploratory factor analysis is employed to apply the key driving forces as the network node of implementing green technologies.The interactive system involving both institutional and market parameters will be set up. The institutional parameters comprise the social development, ecological sustainability and business prosperity in implementing green technologies. Following by them, the market parameters are composed of size increase, corporate earnings upgrades and enhanced risk control. A systematic driving chain in implementing green technology for housing construction model will be established by using system dynamics method to simulate the business performance.The green performance conversion mechanism applied in real estate development enterprises will be established by employing the multiple regression approach based on the measurement of microeconomic and macroeconomic performance. Furthermore, an Institution Analysis and Development (IAD) framework will be established to improve the communication and cooperation between the government and enterprises by relying on the action scenario analysis to evaluate and improve the system, and provides the policy basis for the implementation of green technology.

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Dr. Xiaoling Zhang N/A 2014-2016National Natural Science Foundation of ChinaRMB 200,000




Sustainable Development Fund, Hong Kong Platforms / 香港台
2012-2014

The project collects and documents topics and issues related to the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainable development, and communicate them to the general public through the means of education, publications, audio tours, self-guided tours, interactive smart phone applications, websites, lectures, and exhibitions. The project collects and documents topics and issues related to the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainable development, and communicate them to the general public through the means of education, publications, audio tours, self-guided tours, interactive smart phone applications, websites, lectures, and exhibitions. Discussion issues include harbour reclamation, public transportation hub, port activities, urban renewal and environmental changes -- all closely related to sustainability. This cross-section of issues allows the general public and students to be exposed to contemporary debates about sustainability, and to consider what the opportunities are for sustainable futures of Hong Kong.

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Dr. Bart WissinkN/A 2012-2014Sustainable Development FundHKD 1323679




On the Resident Participation in Domestic Waste Recycling in a High-rise Residential Setting
2012-2014

The project aims to explore the determinants of the resident participation in domestic waste recycling in high-rise residential buildings in Hong Kong; and identify the major concerns of the residents in making recycling decisions.

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Dr. Simon YauN/A2012-2014The Environment and Conservation FundHKD 207,360




The Development of an App-based Activity Tracking System in Social Segregation Research
2013-2014

This project explores new techniques in conducting research on social and spatial segregation. Whilst traditional approaches look at social and spatial segregation by evaluating how people of different socio-economic background mix with each in specific spatial units, recent approaches have moved from a place-based to a people-based perspective in which the actual interaction between groups across neighbourhoods is the focus of concern. This project explores new techniques in conducting research on social and spatial segregation. Whilst traditional approaches look at social and spatial segregation by evaluating how people of different socio-economic background mix with each in specific spatial units, recent approaches have moved from a place-based to a people-based perspective in which the actual interaction between groups across neighbourhoods is the focus of concern. This project proposes to develop app based tools in tracking people mobility with GPS as well as to record daily activities with online diaries. This would greatly improve the accuracy as well as efficiency of the collection of mobility and interaction data. Besides the development of technical instruments, this project will also explore the most efficient work flow in data collection, transmission and manipulation. Not only could these new techniques lead to new approaches in conducting social and spatial segregation research (and hence research bids for more substantial external funding, the tools developed could also be useful to other research that requires geographic position tracking and the use of diary in data collection.

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Prof. Yip Ngai MingProf. Ray Forrest2013-2014City University of Hong KongHKD 100,000




Pricing Building Safety: A Hedonic Price Approach
2013-2014

Theoretical and empirical studies on how building quality or performance is valued by the property market abound in the literature. While some of them research the changes in property price after building renovation, little has been done on the pricing of safety performance of buildings. In this regard, this preliminary research aims to explore if residential properties in safer buildings command higher market values in Hong Kong. For the purpose of this study, the safety performance of a building is measured by the weighted number of unauthorized building works (UBWs) present on the external walls of the buildings. A hedonic price model is developed for assessing the market value of building safety. For the model estimation, apart from the property transaction data, the number of unauthorized appendages (i.e., UBWs attached to the building facades) in each building under study is obtained through a building survey. Based on the analysis results, several hypotheses built upon the theories of selfprotection and self-insurance put forward by Ehrlich and Becker (1972) are tested.

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Dr. Simon YauN/A2013-2014 CityU Seed Grant HKD 100,000




The building of “cultural city” in ordinary Chinese cities: An application of the policy mobility-cum- assemblage analytical framework to the case of Shenzhen
2013-2015

In an increasingly globalizing world, the idea of "cultural/creative cities" has been embraced by many policymakers in China. In this endeavor, the local advocates do not work alone. Instead, urban development policies and policy actors are always on the move, with the latter functioning at, and across, different spatial- administrative scales. However, this phenomenon of Chinese cities hocking onto novel policy ideas through the global networks of actors and communications has only recently been taken up for preliminary examination, not to mention a critical evaluation. This proposed study attempts to fill the gap of policy mobility in Chinese cities by exploring the web of politics in cultural city making in China, starting with the pilot case of Shenzhen - a city that has self-proclaimed to have transformed from a "cultural desert" to a City of Design plugged into the UNESCO Network. This pilot study will prepare the investigators to conduct a full-scale study of policy mobility across a large number of Chinese cities that have engaged in the processes of assemblage of global ideas. In particular, this study explores how the idea of cultural city travels among the rhizomatic networks, and how the global idea and local forces encounter and form the local assemblage. This research attempts to acknowledge the mobility of ideas and actors while stressing the importance of politics in the processes of mobilization.

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Dr. Jun WangN/A 2013-2015SEEDN/A




Efficacy Beliefs, Institutional Settings and Collectivism in Multi-owned Housing Governance in Hong Kong and Macau

The ownership arrangement of multi-owned housing (MOH) necessitates collective actions of homeowners for proper governance of this type of housing (e.g. for housing maintenance and rights protection). Yet, given the collective-good nature of the outcomes of MOH governance, the classic collective-action dilemma suggests that rationality drives homeowners to free-ride on others’ efforts, and that no collective action will take place eventually. However, not all MOH developments are unmanaged actually. Some homeowners do actively participate in MOH governance, and it is worthwhile to examine why some participate whereas others do not. Such inquiry helps to illuminate ways to facilitate collective actions in MOH governance, which is essential for the sustainable management of housing stock and nurturing of civil society. While other scholars and the investigators have identified a list of determinants of homeowner participation, little work has been done on the effects of perceived efficacies of governance proxies (e.g. property management companies and owners’ associations) and institutional settings on collective actions in MOH governance. To fill these gaps, this study aims to explore the impacts of proxy efficacy beliefs and institutional settings on homeowner participation in Hong Kong and Macau using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Given their similar social and cultural contexts but different institutional settings, these two cities are chosen for a meaningful comparison of the findings. To evaluate the effects of proxy efficacy beliefs, an analytical model built upon the widely-used collective interest model and supplemented by other profound social theories like normative conformity and social identity theories is developed. Quantities analyses are conducted the data obtained from structured household surveys. On the qualitative side, in-depth case studies through contextual analyses and interviews with various stakeholders involved in MOH governance are conducted. The information collected is analysed with the institutional analysis and development framework. The findings of the qualitative study depict how the effects of efficacy beliefs, including perceived self, group and proxy efficacies, on participation behaviour are moderated by institutional design. This research will provide valuable insights into homeowner participation in MOH governance in Hong Kong and Macau. The findings will assist policy-makers to make more informed decisions on the governance of MOH. In addition, this study will propose recommendations for improvements in the structure of contemporary housing governance. It will also serve as a cornerstone for wider comparative research with other Asian cities where MOH is predominant such as Shanghai, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

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Simon Yau2015-2016Research Grants Council Hong Kong, General Research Fund




Willingness of residents to pay and motivations for reducing household carbon emission at community level in the compact city of Hong Kong
2015/2016

Household carbon emission has been recognized as one of the most important contributor to climate change with a significant impact on both the local and global environment. Hong Kong government has provided HK$450 million funding for retrofitting existing buildings in order to reduce household carbon emissions. However, progress has been palpably slow and only 20% of the targeted buildings have been retrofitted so far. One reason for this slow progress in Hong Kong is the lack of effective policy tools for reducing household carbon emissions. This research will contribute to reducing household carbon emissions at the community level through the development of effective policy tools and which will help in ameliorating climate change problems in Hong Kong and beyond. The specific purpose is (1) to identify and compare current and past government interventions worldwide to reducing household carbon emissions, their effects under different conditions and evaluate their potential for adaptation in Hong Kong; (2) to investigate the household’s willingness to pay for reducing carbon emissions at the community level; and (3) to provide effective policy tools for reducing household carbon emission in Hong Kong.

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Zhang Xiaoling2015/2016ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION FUND (環境及自然保育基金), the Hong Kong GovernmentHK$450,000




From Chicago to Shenzhen: the City One Hundred Years on
2015

In March this year, exactly 100 years have passed since Robert Park penned his seminal paper The City in the American Journal of Sociology. Subtitled ‘Suggestions for the investigation of human behavior in the city environment’, this paper provided the founding statement for the Chicago school of urban sociology that came to epitomize urban research in the United States and abroad for decades to come. Park stressed the need to research the city as a social structure, and presented the city as “a laboratory or clinic in which human nature and social processes may be most conveniently and profitably studied”. A hundred years onward, much has changed in urban research and in the urban world itself. We now life in a world of global cities, where the Chinese city occupies the centre stage that the American city once had. While many themes picked up by Park still seem very relevant today, at the same time the Chinese city has a radically different urban structure. How does this impact the social life of Chinese citizens? Using Shenzhen as the contemporary urban ‘laboratory’, the Urban Research Group's new project suggests revisiting Park`s agenda, to review its relevance for the contemporary Chinese city, and – reflecting on the new characteristics of the Chinese city – to develop this into a new multi-disciplinary agenda for urban research.

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Ray FORRESTNgai-ming YIP2015




Alpha territoriality in Hong Kong and London: The socio-economic implications of transnational real estate investment by the super-rich
2014

Unresolved disputes connecting to property have stirred up discontent among homeowners and triggers collective action. Despite it has been widely anticipated that the legal system would be able to offer a civilised and institutionalized means in settling such disputes, anecdotal evidence has instead indicates a decline in employing litigation in dispute resolution amidst a concomitant increase in the use of contentious actions in which administrative litigation can be part of the action tactics. This project attempts to examine the perplex interaction between the rule of law and homeowner activism. Information on property related litigation will be collected from online court rulings as well as through indepth interview the views of relevant homeowner activists. Together with related data the investigators collected in previous projects, property related litigation and the rule of law in China will be analysed within a wider socio-political context of neighbourhood governance and the emerging civil society.

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Ngai-ming YIP2014CityU Research Grant




How to Improve Participatory Mechanisms in the Processes of Urban Redevelopment: The Case of Kowloon East (Hong Kong)
2015-2016

Processes of urban redevelopment involve the transformation of land use, social activities and economic flow. Many different social groups are affected by these changes. While some groups may accept the planning regulations and projects, others may disagree. Social conflicts, then, may occur at different stages of the process and may be caused by various circumstances.In order to mitigate the social and political implications of urban redevelopment, planners and managers would adopt participatory strategies. Likewise, the same strategies may be employed by the social groups who are affected by urban development. Such strategies may vary from deliberative forums to litigation (judiciary review) as well as from disruptive forms of protest to innovative use of the media to fuel public debate. Nonetheless, significant questions remain. For instance, which participatory mechanisms within urban redevelopment processes are more effective and why? Which ones are able to be generalised as policy measures and which ones are dependent on a particular context? How should they be designed and implemented -under what conditions and principles? How crucial are they in order to enhance a perspective of inclusive democracy, social justice and environmental sustainability within urban governance?

The present research focuses on a specific area of the city, Kowloon East, as a way to understand the above problems and to offer concrete suggestions to improve the policies of urban redevelopment. First, it will frame the topic of urban redevelopment and public participation within the context and past experiences of Hong Kong. Secondly, it will review the effective participatory mechanisms endorsed by the social groups who are involved in or are concerned about current urban changes. Finally, it will analyse the explanatory factors of the most salient participatory mechanisms under examination. Therefore, the intended report should provide a clear policy orientation by evaluating the participatory mechanisms in Kowloon East and measures to regulate public participation in similar processes of urban redevelopment in Hong Kong will be proposed.

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Miguel Angel MARTINEZ LOPEZNgai-ming YIP2015-2016Central Policy Unit - Public Policy Research (PPR) Funding Scheme498,251




The Curvilinear Link between Environment Strategies and Financial Performance in the Real Estate Firms: Beyond Static Dichotomy of Allies or Adversaries

From natural resource scarcity and global warming to carbon emissions and prolonged haze pollution, environmental deterioration is becoming an increasingly serious problem. As a result, environment strategies have emerged as a priority for business sectors, at least rhetorically, since the publication of the Brundtland Report in 1987. However, despite much literature (e.g., Orlitzky et al., 2003) pointing to the positive effects of corporate social performance on financial performance in general, the conventional wisdom of business sectors concerning their contribution to environmental protection is that the additional costs involved may erode financial performance. Real estate developers also face a similar concern, as there is a widespread perception that it is difficult to make a profit if developers intend to 'go green'. On the other hand, some researchers are equally convinced that going green can lead to better financial performance (e.g., Porter & van der Linde, 1995). The growing importance of articulating green concerns into business sectors is characterized by the lack of an empirically founded plausible theoretical model to understand how environment strategies affect a firm’s financial performance. Resolving this issue involves better understanding the interrelationship between Environment Strategies (ES) and Financial Performance (FP). That is, are ES and FP allies or adversaries? In addition, the growing importance of articulating green concerns into business sectors is characterized by the lack of an empirically founded plausible theoretical model to understand how environment strategies affect a firm’s financial performance. Resolving this issue involves understanding the interrelationship between Environment Strategies (ES) and Financial Performance (FP). In order to advance this long-standing and contentious debate both theoretically and empirically, this study will hypothesize a curvilinear relationship between environment strategy and financial performance for real estate business sector. In other words, we will investigate whether the two long-competing viewpoints (allies or adversaries) may be complementary. In this proposal, it is therefore hypothesized that, as real estate developers adopt more environment strategies, their financial returns will decline at first (in the short term), but then rebound as the environment strategies are increasingly adopted (in the long term). Based on this hypothesis, two interconnected objectives are proposed: a) to model the link between ES and FP from the analysis of longitudinal industry data; and b) to test the ES-FP model empirically in the real estate business sector. To do this, the proposed research project will be conducted within the real estate business context based on a dataset of the annual reports, corporate social sustainability reports and global reporting initiatives of the 208 publicly traded firms in China from 2006 to 2014. The research has potentially profound academic and practical merits. The theoretical model provides potential new answers to the enquiry of the conditional effects of ES on FP. Testing the ES-FP link using longitudinal data of real estate firms has not been carried out before. Also, the proposed ‘beyond dichotomy’ research approach represents a methodological advancement on previous similar studies that adopt an either ‘non-longitudinal’ or ‘subjective’ approach to data collection. In this regard, it may offer original academic value. Practically, it could help resolve the dilemma between government intervention and market value maximization by alerting business leaders to the benefits of implementing proactive environment strategies of their own (e.g., real estate developers mainly opting for green buildings). ?

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Dr. Xiaoling ZhangEarly Career Scheme (ECS)




The squatters' movement in Spain and Europe: contexts, cycles, identities and institutionalization
2012-2014

The Squatters' Movement, reclaiming the social use of empty buildings as residential and socio/cultural places, is a cross-European phenomenon that started around the mid 1980s in Spain and some decades before in other countries. In spite of the short duration of many squats and the fast change of activists involved, this urban movement as such has been consolidated among other alternative, new and alter-global social movements. The present research project aims to know the evolution of the Squatters' Movement in some of the main European metropolitan areas (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga, Seville, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan and Rome). In particular we want to explain that evolution according to the different legal, urban, socio-cultural and political contexts; the different cycles of mobilisation; and the strategic interactions between squatters, authorities, owners and other social organizations. Two principal questions arise within this theoretical framework: a) How social identities are set up through different practices of squatting, cultural expressions, discourses and social networks? b) What kind of 'institutionalisation regimes' had taken place according to different urban settings and different models of strategic interactions? Systematic comparison between cities can provide, then, a general test of patterns and relevant singularities in order to verify the influence of the aforementioned four factors (contexts, cycles, identities and institutionalisation) in the outcomes of the Squatters' Movement: political socialisation and participation, socio-cultural innovation and creation, and urban restructuring.

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Dr. Miguel Martinez Lopez N/A 2012-2014 National Research Council of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation 90,000€




Alpha territoriality in Hong Kong and London: The socio-economic implications of transnational real estate investment by the super-rich
2013-2015

Social research has tended not to focus on the super-rich, largely because they are hard to locate, and even harder to collaborate with in research. In this project we seek to address these concerns by focusing extensive research effort on the question of where and how the super-rich live and invest in the property markets of the cities of Hong Kong and London. We see these cities as exemplary in assisting in the construction of further insights and knowledge in how the super-rich seek residential investment opportunities, how they live there when they are 'at home' in such residences and how these patterns of investment shape the social, political and economic life of these cities more broadly. Given that the super-rich make such decisions on the basis of tax incentives and the attraction of major cultural infrastructure (such as galleries and theatre) we have proposed a program of research capable of offering an inside account of the practices that go to make-up these investment patterns including processes of searching for suitable property, its financing, the kinds of property deemed to be suitable and an analysis of how estate agents and city authorities seek to capitalise and retain the potentially highly mobile investment by the super-rich.

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Dr. Bart Wissink Prof. Ray Forrest, R. Atkinson and R. Burrows 2013-2015ESRC/RGCHKD 350,000




Making cultural cities in China: policy mobility, assemblage and mutations
2013-2015

Policy mobility is a strand of studies that explore the emerging geography of governance in an increasingly globalizing world. The proposed study is based on the premise that the cultural/creative city is a mobile concept that travels across different decision-making fields and is territorialized in local political and economic contexts. Being an attempt to study Chinese cities’ endeavor of cultural city making in the global network, this study positions Shanghai and Shenzhen, two “Cities of Design” included in the UNESCO Creative City Network, in a single framework for a comparative analysis. The proposed research will explore the question of how the mobile idea of cultural/creative cities, derived from advanced economies in late capitalism, has been channeled to and territorialized in Chinese cities, and how the mutated or re-invented versions have been institutionalized, branded and, perhaps, exported. Deploying assemblage as methodology, the research framework attempts to be equally sensitive to the role of relational and territorial geographies as well as discursive and material dimensions in the ideological and political construction of cultural cities.

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Dr. Jun WangN/A 2013-2015Research Grants Council Hong Kong, General Research FundHKD 560,600




Urbanisation, Economic Reform and the Transformation of the Neighbourhood in Transitional Viet Nam (轉型中的越南:城市化、經濟改革與社區變遷)
2010-2013

Vietnam is developing fast and its connection with Hong Kong is very close. It is also the country with which China is often compared in the study of the transitional economies. This project aims to advance our understanding of Vietnam, particularly at the microlevel, by examining the impacts of the socio-economic change at the residential neighbourhood, the arena in which structure intersects with agency. The neighbourhood arouses renewed interest among academics and policy makers in the West on its impact as a key domain for the transmission of shared values and norms and as building block of social cohesion. Yet, the importance of the neighbourhood has been undermined in Vietnam in the past owing to strong kinship tie. However, they have a long history of taking the neighbourhood as arena of social control and political mobilization in the prereform era. The economic reform, Doi Moi, and the associated rapid industralisation and urbanization have brought profound transformation to the neighbourhood. First, it weakens both the capacity of kinship network and the state in providing necessary services and crucial support to residents. Hence, the recreation of neighbourhood social and service networks can be a solution. Second, the neighbourhood is also where entrepreneurial activities started. This often marks the beginning of the institutionalisation of the informal economy. Third, old apparatus of social control at the neighbourhood has been eroded by the economic reform, the neigbhourhood has instead transformed into a venue of negotiation between the state and local residents. This hinges on to the changing state-society relation and connects closely to the development of the civil society. This project will employ multiple methodologies, survey, indepth interview, observation, focus group etc, to collect information on various aspects of the neighbourhood, which include, social and kinship networks, formal and informal provision of services, the informal economy, the role of the ward offices and their interaction with local residents. Such information enables us to explore the changing faces of the neighbourhood in social, economic and political aspects as well as to offer empirically based and culturally specific information on social change in transitional economies. This project can also allow the research team to produce synergy with what they find in this project with their research on the neighbourhood in China and elsewhere in enriching our understanding of the transitional economies as well as on the study of the neigbhourhood.

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Prof. Yip Ngai MingProf. Ray Forrest2010-2013 Research Grants Council Hong Kong, General Research FundHKD 824,000




Elevating the Peasants: Spatial Realignment, Property Rights and Local Accountability in Rural China
2013-2015

Urbanization and the social dislocations related to the transfer of land rights have been the major concerns among policy makers and academics. There is a growing literature on the conflicts around the peripheral expansion of cities in Africa and Latin America and the issues of spatial justice have always been, and remain at the core of urban debates in the social sciences theory. China is evidently not immune to this challenge. The intensity of the tension unleashed by the scramble for land is reinforced by the unique features of its development trajectory: decades of suppressed urbanization, massive influx of foreign capital, unequal distribution of fiscal resources between levels of government and pervasive corruption. The resistance of Chinese peasants against the loss of land has however alerted the central government and provoked its intervention in favour of the former. Yet, land-hungry local governments remain undeterred. The form of land grab may have changed, but not its intensity. The most recent attempt at land accumulation by local government is to "elevate the peasant into high rise apartment". Under this new institutional initiative, peasants who are willing to surrender their land contract will be relocated to a modernized apartment in a high rise building. Such vertical extension of residential space would then release more land for development. This spatial realignment could have significant implications for rural life. How do the peasants and local government renegotiate property rights over rural land? Does the new spatial alignment signal the end of traditional rural community in China? Will this new residential pattern undermine the moral cohesiveness of rural community and thus weaken the accountability of local administration? In other words, with its possible impact on the peasants’ economic and welfare entitlement and political efficacy, this change may herald a redefinition of rural citizenship. This research intends to evaluate the impact of this process. Three localities that have introduced this innovative policy are chosen for analysis: Beijing, Chongqing and Zibo in Shandong. The team will deploy a wide range of research tools including in-depth interviews, household survey and documentary analysis to conduct a comprehensive exploration of the issues. The findings should have a major impact on the theoretical debates on spatial justice, local democracy and property right and significant policy relevance related to the issues of social stability and political reform in contemporary China.

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Prof. Ray YepProf. Ray Forrest 2013-2015 Research Grants Council Hong Kong, General Research FundHKD 845,000




Housing and Hong Kong's Post-80s Generation: Attitudes, Aspirations and Future Trajectories(房屋與香港八十後世代:心態,訴求與發展軌跡)
2011-2014

The experiences, attitudes and aspirations of Hong Kong’s younger generations have become increasingly prominent academic, policy and popular concerns. In the transition from dependence to independence, from school to work, from childhood to adulthood, housing plays a pivotal role. Access to affordable and satisfactory accommodation affects patterns of departure from the parental home, household formation, marriage rates, fertility rates and has broader impacts on intergenerational relations and the social structure. Differential patterns of access to housing can also create divisions and differences in terms of lifestyles, living standards and generallife chances within the younger generations. These issues have strong international resonance as young people face more challenges in housing and labour markets across the world. This project will explore these issues in the context of Hong Kong but set within this broader international context. The project will employ a mixed methodology of secondary analysis of census data with social survey and focus groups to examine housing circumstances, expectations and constraints among different groups within the 18-35 age range.

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Prof. Ray ForrestProf. Yip Ngai Ming2011-2014Research Grants Council Hong Kong, General Research FundHKD 924,000