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Welfare regime and familialisation in East Asia: testing the hypothesis of low-fertility equilibrium in Hong Kong
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 02:29 authored by Wing Shek Adrian Lui
This project aims to locate East Asian advanced economies in existing welfare regime frameworks according to how their social care responsibilities are distributed among state, market and family. Based on this analysis, the project attempts to explain the socio-economic outcomes based on this welfare regime analysis, focusing on Esping-Andersen's hypothesis of 'low fertility equilibrium' which explains low levels of both female labour market participation and fertility levels in familial welfare schemes. Using Hong Kong as a case study of East Asian welfare regimes, this thesis conducts a comparative analysis to determine whether Hong Kong can be characterised as a familial welfare regime based on the allocation of caring responsibilities across the market, state and household. The thesis examines trends in fertility levels, female labour force participation rates and degree of gender equality in the labour market to answer these questions. It will also identify factors affecting labour force participation and fertility decisions of married women in Hong Kong based on data from the 2011 Hong Kong Population Census to assess whether the hypothesis of ‘low fertility equilibrium’ provides a valid explanation for female labour force participation and fertility rates in Hong Kong. Our findings suggest that Hong Kong can be classified as a familial welfare regime, although familialism is an outcome of residualism, rather than conservatism, as suggested in Esping-Andersen’s theoretical framework. The findings also support the hypothesis of ‘low fertility equilibrium’. This suggests that Hong Kong will need to develop more extensive defamilialisation mechanisms in order to increase both female labour force participation and fertility levels.