Do Poorer Areas Have Poorer Access to Services in Hong Kong? A Small-Area Analysis Based on Multiple Spatial Accessibility Indicators

Yingqi Guo, Shu Sen Chang*, Mengni Chen, Paul S.F. Yip

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have yielded inconsistent findings regarding whether poorer areas have poorer access to health and social services. Using three indicators of service availability and accessibility, we investigated how the spatial accessibility of 28 types of services varied across quintiles of small-area poverty rates in Hong Kong. The results show that the patterns differed by the indicator used and the type of services examined. The service-to-population ratio tended to yield a “pro-rich pattern”, i.e. higher service availability in less poor neighborhoods, but the road-network distance indicator tended to yield a “pro-poor pattern”, i.e. a shorter distance by road to the nearest service in poorer neighborhoods; in contrast, the two-step floating catchment area index yielded patterns that were less consistent across different types of services. Consistency in the associations across the three accessibility indicators was found only for a few types of services, e.g. a “pro-poor pattern” for self-study rooms and a “pro-rich pattern” for swimming pools and tennis courts. As the three spatial accessibility indicators tended to generate different results, future research should include careful consideration of the choice of indicators and the context in which these indicators are utilized. Our analysis also indicates that the spatial distribution of services in Hong Kong does not always support the “deprivation amplification theory,” i.e. poorer areas are more deprived of resources; in Hong Kong, poorer areas had better, not poorer, access to certain services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Deprivation amplification
  • Hong Kong
  • Inequality
  • Poverty
  • Spatial accessibility indicators


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