Household expenditure patterns of different income groups

     To collect up-to-date information on the expenditure patterns of households in Hong Kong, the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) is now conducting a new round of the Household Expenditure Survey (HES).

     Generally speaking, there is a close relationship between the expenditure pattern of a household and its income. For instance, high-income households may spend more on luxury goods and various personal services. As for low-income households, their expenditure shares on food, water charges, electricity charges and other necessities may be relatively higher than those on luxury goods and other non-necessities.

     When analysing the household expenditure patterns by quartile household income group (i.e. dividing the households evenly into four groups according to their household income levels in ascending order) based on the results of the 2009-10 HES conducted by the C&SD, food comprised the largest expenditure share among various expenditure sections for the lowest quartile income group (i.e. households with income of $13,000 or below), constituting 35 per cent of their total household expenditure. The respective share for households in the highest quartile income group (i.e. households with income greater than $40,000) was only 21 per cent. Looking closer at various expenditure groups of the food section, the expenditure share of meals bought away from home in the food section was higher for high-income households than that for low-income households, whereas the expenditure share on basic foodstuffs like rice, meat and fresh vegetables was higher in the latter group.

     On the other hand, the expenditure shares of housing and transport were relatively higher for high-income households. Taking the highest quartile income group as an example, housing accounted for 35 per cent of their total expenditure, while the corresponding share for the lowest quartile income group was 30 per cent. This phenomenon was conceivably due to the alleviated spending on housing resulting from the public and subsidised housing benefits provided by the Government for some low-income households. Similarly, high-income households spent a significantly greater share on transport, mostly involving purchases of and repairs to motor vehicles, motor fuel, motor licences, insurance, instructor' fees, parking fees, tunnel tolls and more, while the transport expenditure of low-income households was generally on public transport fares.

     Regarding other commodity/service sections and groups, high-income households spent a higher expenditure share on clothing and footwear, travel and sports goods, package tours and household services. Nevertheless, the share of expenditure on general leisure and entertainment such as cinema entertainment and expenses on parties showed no remarkable difference among different income groups. It is interesting to note that the expenditure share of alcoholic drinks and tobacco was actually higher for low-income households than that for high-income households. This finding was similar to survey results in other countries.

     Our society is evolving every second, with price movements and changes in market trends, and so are the household expenditure patterns. Upon the release of the results of the latest round of the HES by the C&SD in mid-2016, one shall be able to tell how the expenditure patterns of households in different income groups have varied over the past five years.

Ends/Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:45


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