Hong Kong Family Welfare Society’s “Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index” 2022 Reveals Drop in Overall Index Score, “The Poor Getting Poorer” Phenomenon and Advocates to Enhance Family Wellbeing by Strengthening Internal and External Interactions(2022-05-19)
The Hong Kong Family Welfare Society (HKFWS) is all along concerned about the wellbeing of Hong Kong families, and has released the first "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" in 2020 to draw the public's attention to family wellbeing. "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" is the first socially relevant and culturally appropriate measurement tool in Hong Kong to assess the wellbeing of Hong Kong families, providing a significant reference for Hong Kong families, the government and different stakeholders to enhance family wellbeing.
This year, HKFWS commissioned the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute in January to conduct a random telephone survey by using fixed network or mobile device and successfully invited 2,002 Hong Kong residents aged 18 or above living with their families to answer the “Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" questionnaire with 26 questions in six domains: (1) family solidarity, (2) family resources, (3) family health, (4) social connection, (5) social resources and (6) work-life balance. The respondents were also asked whether or not their family income and family relationship had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HKFWS today (19 May 2022) announced the results of "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" 2022 with highlights as follows:
1. The overall score of the "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" 2022 is 6.10 points, which is at the low end of the "average" level. (Note: Scale points are from 0 to 10. Higher score represents higher level of family wellbeing. According to the sample scores, the research team defines four levels of family wellbeing: 7.5 scores or above as “good”, 6 to <7.5 scores as "average", 5 to <6 scores as "below average", and 5 scores or below as "poor".)
Domains that concerned the situation within the family scoring relatively high scores (at the "average" level) include:
- Family solidarity (7.40 points)
- Family resources (7.20 points)
- Family health (7.07 points)
All other three domains that concerned the family’s interaction with the outside world scoring below 5 points (at the "poor" level) include:
- Social resources (4.80 points)
- Work-life balance (4.66 points)
- Social connection (3.26 points)
2. Comparison of "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" 2022 and "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" 2019
- The overall score of "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" has dropped 0.21 from 6.31 in 2019 to 6.10 in 2022.
- In 2022, the number of families rated as “average” is lower and accounts for 43%, compared with 50% in 2019; while the number of families rated as “poor” significantly increases 7% to 19%.
- Domains on “social connection” and “social resources” see the largest decrease with a drop of 0.86 and 0.47 respectively when comparing with 2019.
3. Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on family relationships and family income
- 66% of respondents commented the pandemic had not affected their family relationship, 19% said family relationship worsened, and 15% expressed the pandemic had made family relationship better.
- 50% of respondents commented family income decreased, 47% said the pandemic had no effect on family income, 2% said family income increased, and 1% said it was unclear about the effect.
Based on the above results, HKFWS has the following three recommendations:
1. In view of the decline in the overall score of family wellbeing index and the “the poor getting poorer” phenomenon, HKFWS calls on the government to set "enhancing Hong Kong families’ wellbeing" as their policy objective
The 2019 “Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index” survey was conducted in July and August of that year amid social turmoil. The family wellbeing level at that time was 6.31, which was believed to be a low starting point; however, the level of family wellbeing had further fallen significantly to 6.10 this year, affected by the pandemic, and the situation is worrying.
Both the 2019 and 2022 studies have evidenced the notable associations between the level of family income and that of family wellbeing. The 2022 survey further reveals the chasm of family wellbeing between low-income families and high-income ones. The phenomenon “the poor getting poorer” manifests not only in the financial conditions of families, but also in their family wellbeing.
One of the four tenets of the new-term Government is "building a caring society", and families are the essential building blocks of society. Forging family wellbeing is an important strategy for building a caring society. HKFWS calls on the government to intervene at the policy level and formulate family-friendly measures in the realm of social welfare, education, healthcare, labour, etc., to bring different sectors of our society together for the promotion of family wellbeing.
2. Enhancing cooperation among family members, realising the "family-carer partners" concept to strengthen family functions
The survey shows families typically viewed as deprived like those with members requiring special care, the separated/divorced/widowed persons and low-income families are found to have lower family wellbeing than other types of families, their decline is larger than the other groups.
HKFWS advocates the concept of "family-carer partners". No matter living together or not, family members can work as a team to handle the various matters of the family, and above all the responsibility of looking after family members requiring special care, lest overburdening any single carer. Efforts in coordination and communication are indispensable in forming an effective team, which serves not only sharing caring stress among family members, but also strengthening “family solidarity”, thus bringing wellbeing to a family.
HKFWS has been promoting multi-generational families communication through service programmes that facilitate co-operation between grandparents and parents in parenting. HKFWS also provides services for divorced families to assist in their co-parenting. To support carers, HKFWS delivers mental health consultation and groupwork services, as well as programmes for carers who take care of elderly family members.
3. Encouraging tripartite collaborations among the government, the business community and the general public to reinforce interactions between families and external environment
The scores in the "social resources" and "social connection" domains in 2022 are significantly lower than those of 2019, "social connection" drops 0.86 (decreasing by 20.9%), falling into the "poor" level. This is most likely caused by the pandemic. We realise from the pandemic that linkage to external support like from friends , relatives, neighbours, community organisations and the government departments is crucial to families.
Regarding government’s collaboration, we anticipate the results of this study could serve as insight for the government to strengthen and formulate policies to support families. For example, in the coming two years the government could strengthen the connection between families and society to prevent family problems. With the injection of more resources, the government could and coordinate community organisations to build up versatile supportive networks for families.
In the business sector, many corporations are actively supporting families during the pandemic. In particular property management companies have been playing important roles in distributing materials and disseminating anti-epidemic information. We believe these property management personnel are at a vantage point to identify families who are in crisis and refer them to suitable services. Thus, we recommend promoting cooperation between social welfare agencies and property management companies to provide the personnel of the latter with training in this aspect.
For the general public, we encourage reinvigoration of the concept of "mutual support of neighbours". Amid the fragile relationships between neighbours and with the impact of the fifth wave of the pandemic, huge effects could be brought by the mutual support among neighbours. Neighbour support could start with volunteer service, no matter participating in individual or family as a whole basis. Contribution through volunteer work not only strengthens community network, but also underpins "family solidarity". In the era of technology advancement, mutual help platforms may appear in the form of physical or online modes. Beyond mutual help, these platforms could also serve those families not knowledgeable about public resources to access appropriate public services.
HKFWS continues to encourage the public to fill in the "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" online questionnaire (https://www.hkfws.org.hk/en/hkfwi), scrutinise the wellbeing of their family, and receive advice for enhancing their family wellbeing.
"Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" Online Questionnaire
The announcement of the "Hong Kong Family Wellbeing Index" 2022 is the first activity of the "Family Month" programme organised by HKFWS in May. The theme of this year's "Family Month" is "Family Wellbeing Amid Changes", which invites the public to reflect on how maintaining family wellbeing is important in life when facing various and unexpected changes. The public needs to believe in the ability of families, uphold the spirit of "Family First", and work hard to improve family wellbeing.
Other major activities of "Family Month" include “Homeland” family market to be held in PMQ in Central on 21 May and 22 May 2022 (Saturday and Sunday) and an announcement of research on "Multi- Generations Families Parenting" course study cum professional training to be conducted on 26 May 2022 (Thursday).
For details and latest news of "Family Month", please visit the "Family Wellbeing Month" designated webpage (https://www.hkfws.org.hk/family-month).
"Family Month" designated webpage