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Income and Wealth Inequality in Hong Kong, 1981-2020: The Rise of Pluto-Communism?

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  • Thomas Piketty

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, WIL - World Inequality Lab)

  • Li Yang

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, INSEAD - Institut Européen d'administration des Affaires)

Abstract

This paper combines national accounts, household surveys, fiscal data, wealth rankings and election polls, in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of income and wealth inequality in Hong Kong, as well as its impact on political cleavages over the 1981-2020 period. We find a very large rise in wage inequality since 1981, especially since the Handover of Hong Kong to China. Top 1% earners now receive a much larger fraction of the total wage bill than bottom 50% earners, while the opposite was true in pre-Handover Hong Kong. We also observe an enormous increase in the capital share and the top wealth share (normalized by national income) since 2000. Today Hong Kong's very top wealth share (top 0.001%) is ranked at very top in the world. Finally, we find that the top income earners and high-income professions (such as executives and managers) are more likely to vote for pro-Beijing camp, while the bottom 85% income group, students and lower-income professionals are more likely to be pro-democratic.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Piketty & Li Yang, 2021. "Income and Wealth Inequality in Hong Kong, 1981-2020: The Rise of Pluto-Communism?," Working Papers halshs-03321889, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-03321889
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03321889
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