Survey on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong released

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A survey commissioned by the Home Affairs Bureau and the Census and Statistics Department on Hong Kong's ethnic minorities was released today (January 2).

The survey, conducted by a private consultant, was a first attempt at obtaining basic information on the demographic profile of the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. The data collected will assist Government planning and provide valuable experience for the 2001 Census, which - for the first time - will collect information on ethnicity: a requirement of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The survey was carried out between October 1999 and January 2000 and successfully enumerated around 9,500 households, selected at random from the 'Frame of Quarters' maintained by the Census and Statistics Department. A greater sampling fraction was assigned to districts - such as Central and Western, Wan Chai, Yau Tsim Mong and Yuen Long - with relatively high minority populations. This was to reduce the risk of under-sampling inherent in any attempt to enumerate very small populations through the random sampling of a total population (non-Chinese comprise just 4% of Hong Kong's population). Information collected through the survey included age, place of birth, nationality, length of residence, education level, income, occupation, language proficiency, and so forth.

The findings confirmed that Filipinos (158,000) formed the largest minority group (56.6%), followed by Indonesians (40,000, or 14.4%). Most members of the ethnic minorities were women aged between 27 and 38 and working as domestic helpers. Over half (54.8%) had completed secondary studies and most (77.2%) were earning between $2,000 and $6,000 a month. Some 60.4% claimed fluency in English; 11.2% in Cantonese.

The survey was particularly useful in revealing some of the limitations of the random sampling technique in exercises of this nature. Even with the larger than usual sample base, the 'strike rate' (non-Chinese households contacted) was always likely to be relatively low and, in the event, some anomalous results were obtained.

Nevertheless, the findings provide some useful insights into the socio-economic characteristics of the minority communities. The lessons learned in the course of the exercise will also be put to good use in the 2001 population census, which is to be conducted in March.

A summary of the main findings of the survey will be submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by way of a supplement to the report submitted in October under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The summary has been distributed to the Legislative Council Panel on Home Affairs, interested non-governmental organisations and relevant bureaux/departments. The full report has been posted on the Home Affairs Bureau's homepage (http://www.info.gov.hk/hab/new/index_e.htm). And an abridged version will be incorporated in 'Thematic Household Survey (THS) Report No.4', to be published by the Census and Statistics Department for sale at the Government Publications Centre. Enquiries may be directed to the Home Affairs Bureau (2835 2065) or the Census and Statistics Department (2887 0416).

End/Tuesday, January 2, 2001

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