“How can we close the economic gap between the rich and poor?” This is the question which many ask, but could not find an ideal answer for it. I chose to write about this topic because I know Hong Kong has one of the biggest economic gaps between the rich and the poor. This topic is related to Changing Communities. I wanted to investigate how Hong Kong can solve this issue, as in this small city, there are multi-millionaire people on one side, but in the opposite side, there are people living in rooftops and caged homes. Worldwide, there are countries living in extreme poverty too. During MaD week, I’ve visited Cambodia first hand and I have experienced the situation that the poor are living in.
I wanted to know how we, as in the whole world can help these people. This topic is important as we need to understand the reasons behind this problem, so we can ensure equality between all of mankind.Global PerspectiveGoal 1 of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is to eradicate poverty. If we compare reports by Oxfam from 2010 and 2015, we can tell that the wealth inequality is rising worldwide, which is an issue to eliminate poverty. Wars in the past have greatly affected the economic growth and development of countries compared to the ones that have stayed out of the conflict. History has told us that violence and wars have created economic and development problems. Examples of this include Cambodia’s mass genocide in 1975 and Somalia’s current decade-long civil war (Homayouni, “Closing the Gap between the World’s Elite and the World’s Poor: A Critical Step towards Peace”).
Countries can also be affected greatly by post-war effects. If we look back at WWII, we can say that violence affects the future of the country, by disrupting their capita income growth of the country, sex ratio, creating hunger crises and displacing people (Kesternich et al., “The Effects of World War II on Economic and Health Outcomes across Europe”).Analysis/EvaluationI think that Goal 1: No Poverty is one of the hardest goals of the Sustainable Development Goals. To essentially achieve this goal, other SDGs such as Goal 4: Quality Education would have to completed before Goal 1 can ultimately be achieved.
Personal responsePersonally, I believe that Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals, eradicating extreme poverty which is defined by people living with less than USD $1.25 a day before 2030 would not be achieved. This is because worldwide, nearly half of the world’s population is living in poverty. A trend seems to appear where countries that have recently been involved in violence and war are the ones that are living in poverty. Wars have greatly affected countries, as it disrupts their sex ratio, creating crises such as hunger issues and displacing thousands of people ultimately affecting their GDP and development. These countries do not know how to recover from such events, which is why they are far underdeveloped compared to rest of the world. Another factor which contributes to how fast a country develops is if they have a good governing system.
I believe that the majority of the less economically developed countries have corrupt government officials. A small amount of their national spendings is used individually by the corrupt government officials, but that small amount can slowly add up and affect the country’s GDP, making them less developed compared to other countries worldwide. If the country’s population grows even more, more people would be in need of jobs but because of the country’s economy, they cannot afford to withstand the growing population, so the problem of massive unemployment will occur. This could lead to more people forced to live in poverty or turn life into crime, ultimately passing the deadline for Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goal by 2030.Future scenarios and courses of actionIn the coming future, I believe that there will be less economically developed countries with a large number of corrupt government officials will start to decrease.
When the people of those countries know how corrupted their government system is, they will start to rebel against the government. An example of this is Zimbabwe’s overthrow of the corrupt president, Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s economy was spiking, which showed a sign of corruption as it wasn’t a stable growth. The people decided to overthrow the president, by having a military coup. This made Mugabe agree to stand down, which lead to a new leading being elected (“The Military Coup in Zimbabwe, Explained”). After a new president is elected, I believe that the country’s economy will have a stable growth, which would allow the country become more economically developed, catching up to the rest of the world, ultimately closing the global economic gap.Source evaluationI think the sources I used such as United Nations is a reliable source because it relates to the global world.
National PerspectiveHong Kong is infamously known for being one of the most expensive cities to live in. It has one of the highest poverty gaps worldwide. It costs a lot to rent, let alone buying an apartment in this miniature, cramped city. Data has shown that there are around 70,000 families in Hong Kong that live on less than $15 per meal (Carvalho, “What Does It Mean to Be Poor in Hong Kong, and How Many People Live in Poverty?”). Elderly poverty also plays an important role in why Hong Kong has such a huge economic gap between the rich and the poor.
Around one in ten elderly are currently living in below Hong Kong’s poverty line which is set at $3,800 for one-person households (Lung, “Local Poverty”). These people living in poverty cannot afford to buy their own houses, so they seek help from the government to reserve a spot in the three to four years wait for a public apartment, or they could choose the other path to rent “caged homes” and “rooftop slums”.Singapore used to have one of the worst housing crisis, but now 90% of the population owns a home, and homelessness is virtually abolished. When you observe Singapore’s housing, you can clearly see that public housing has played a huge role in providing a “home”. Hong Kong compared to Singapore has a huge housing issue.
90% of Singapore’s population owns a house, compared to Hong Kong’s 50% of the population who owns a house (Chu, “Workable Solutions to Hong Kong Dire Housing Situation”).Analysis/EvaluationI think building public estate buildings is one of the best choices for Hong Kong. Although a lot of old buildings and land will have to be demolished, it could be the only way to for Hong Kong to solve it’s housing issue, reducing the costs of housing for people living in poverty.Personal responseIn my opinion, I think that Hong Kong’s huge economic gap is really hard to solve. One of the contributing factors which makes it really hard to solve is it’s expensive housing.
A lot of the poor in Hong Kong spend a great portion of their income on monthly rent. To close the economic gap, we need to reduce the cost of rent so the poor can spend their money on their “needs”. Hong Kong’s housing problem cannot be fairly compared to Singapore’s housing problem, as there is a 1.7 million population difference between the 2 cities, but I think Future scenarios and courses of actionI believe that Hong Kong’s housing issue will only slowly progress. Hong Kong needs to change the overall system of how they sell their land, as they’ve already used up a massive portion of their “usable” land.
Hong Kong only has a limited amount of land. A portion the land is protected as it is a national country park. Hong Kong’s current “spade-ready” land has already been used up (Cheung, “Hong Kong Can’t Solve Its Housing Problems without Trade-offs”). “See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me”, this line from a song is an accurate representation of what Hong Kong needs to do right now to solve its housing crisis. Instead of developing on the ground, we need to look into the sea.
We could build huge artificial floating islands on the edge of Hong Kong’s waters. This might seem far off into the future, but it’s the only way for Hong Kong right now. It may seem like a risk, but hundreds of thousands of people do not own a legal, safe shelter.
This would reduce the price of houses in Hong Kong solving it’s housing crisis, ultimately closing the gap between the rich and the poor.Source evaluationI think the sources I used for my national perspective is appropriate because SCMP is Hong Kong’s local news.Personal PerspectiveIn the central district of Hong Kong, you can see two completely different lifestyles. One is working in the office, while the other is working on the streets picking up cardboard for resale. Personally, when I eat with my extended family, I can feel the economic gap which this city has. For my family and my cousin’s family, we needed to pay more for dinners, as some of the relatives do not earn much income. I feel like Hong Kong focuses too much on developing the city. The society forgets about the poverty and leaves them behind while everyone else gets richer and richer.
This lengthens the economic gap between the rich and the poor. Our society needs to focus more on helping these people.Analysis/EvaluationI think that if we don’t start helping the poverty now and continue to develop instead, in the long run, the people in poverty would start to slow the development of Hong Kong. But, if we help the people in poverty, this would use up a portion of the national spendings, reducing the elderly benefits in the future.Source evaluationI think the source I used to support my personal response is reliable because It is written by a local newspaper company in Hong Kong that talks about the problems in the city.ConclusionSolving economic inequality is one of the ambitious goals that countries have, but it’s also one of the hardest problems to solve.
For countries to even out the economic gap worldwide, the corrupt or inexperienced government officials need to be replaced. This would hopefully allow a more experienced and trustworthy leader to lead, which would improve the developing country’s GDP, evening out the economic gap. Hong Kong’s housing crisis is one of the main reason why there is such a huge economic gap between the rich and the poor.
If the government could figure out a way to provide more public housing for the public such as developing in the sea, it would shorten the economic gap between the rich and poor. Overall, closing the economic gap is a really hard problem to solve. When you solve one aspect of the problem, others will start to pop up, leading to more issues.
ReflectionIn this essay, I have learnt many things about how to solve Hong Kong’s housing issue. This is one of the most asked questions about Hong Kong. I used to think that revamping Hong Kong’s system of selling land is the only way to solve the housing crisis, but now I’ve learnt that there are many other better ways through research.Bibliography:GlobalHomayouni, Sara. Closing the Gap between the World’s Elite and the World’s Poor: a Critical Step towards Peace.
Peace Direct, 29 Jan. 2016, www.peacedirect.org/closing-the-gap-between-the-worlds-elite-and-the-worlds-poor-a-critical-step-towards-peace/.”Sustainable Development Goals.
” United Nations, United Nations, 25 Sept. 2015, www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/.
“The Military Coup in Zimbabwe, Explained.” YouTube, Vox, 18 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=60nDlMw5vFQ.
I chose global websites such as United Nations because it would be more relevant to my global perspective.NationalCarvalho, Raquel. “What Does It Mean to Be Poor in Hong Kong, and How Many People Live in Poverty?” Scmp.com, South China Morning Post, 12 Oct.
Lung, Tai Ngai. “Local Poverty.” Oxfam Hong Kong, Oxfam, www.oxfam.org.
hk/en/localpoverty.aspx.Cheung, Anthony. “Hong Kong Can’t Solve Its Housing Problems without Trade-Offs.” South China Morning Post, 21 Dec. 2016, www.scmp.
com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2056325/hong-kong-cant-solve-its-housing-problems-without-trade-offs.Chu, Ken. “Workable Solutions to Hong Kong Dire Housing Situation.” South China Morning Post, 4 Apr. 2017, www.
scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2084697/hong-kongs-housing-situation-dire-compared-singapores-heres.”Why 80% of Singaporeans Live in Government-Built Flats.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 6 July 2017, www.economist.com/news/asia/21724856-subsidies-are-irresistiblebut-come-social-controls-why-80-singaporeans-live.I chose to use South China Morning Post as one of my main sources for my national perspective because it provides an insight on Hong Kong’s issues by people studying Hong Kong. This gives me a lot of different perspectives and ideas on solving Hong Kong’s issue.
PersonalCheung, Elizabeth, and Denise Tsang. “Cardboard Collectors Struggle as Prices Fall amid Strike by Waste Paper Exporters.” South China Morning Post, 17 Sept. 2017, www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2111535/cardboard-collectors-struggle-prices-fall-amid.