A Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)-led research team has developed the Support for Social Inclusion Score (SFSIS), a survey tool to gauge public opinions on social inclusion policies for marginalised groups. It allows policymakers to track public support for relevant policies and evaluate their effectiveness. The first survey conducted using SFSIS revealed that policies targeting the elderly enjoy the strongest support by Hong Kong citizens, while policies concerning sexual minorities receive the weakest support.
The SFSIS has been developed by a research team led by Dr Lee Siu-yau, Associate Professor of the Department of Government and International Studies at HKBU, along with Dr Isabella Ng Fung-sheung and Dr Xiao Hanyu from The Education University of Hong Kong. The research project is funded by the Public Policy Research Funding Scheme from the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office of the HKSAR Government.
User-friendly survey tool for inclusion policies
Currently there is no comprehensive and regular measurement of public support for different types of social inclusion policies in Hong Kong. How these policies are received by the public, and how psychological and demographic attributes influenced their perception of the policies cannot be determined. The research team therefore developed the SFSIS as a user-friendly survey tool for such purposes.
In developing the SFSIS, the research team identified five key marginalised groups, namely the elderly, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, new immigrants from the Mainland and sexual minorities. A total of 25 social inclusion policy measures were selected, with five policies associated with each of the five groups. A score system with a scale from 1 to 7 was introduced for respondents to comment on regarding the 25 policy measures. A score of 1 indicates the strongest opposition to a policy, while 7 indicates the strongest support. A score of 4 represents a neutral stance.
A telephone survey was conducted by the research team in late 2022 based on the SFSIS, involving approximately 1,000 respondents.
Sexual minority policies receive the least support
The survey found that policies aimed at the elderly and persons with disabilities garnered the highest support, receiving mean scores of 6.2 and 6.1 respectively, followed by policies for ethnic minorities with a mean score of 5.2. Meanwhile, policies supporting new immigrants from the Mainland and sexual minorities received comparatively weaker support, with mean scores of 4.9 and 4.7 respectively.
The top three most popular policies are the Government Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities, or the “two dollars scheme” (score 6.5); home-visits to the elderly in need (score 6.5); and the implementation of a requirement for educational institutions to provide support for students with special education needs (score 6.4).
“Two dollars scheme” most popular
On the other hand, policies that grant actual rights or increase the presence of the marginalised groups in the community are less popular. For instance, allowing refugees to work in Hong Kong and the legalisation of same-sex marriage scored 4 or below, indicating that the public is less supportive or even opposed to these policies. Survey results of all the 25 policy measures can be found in the Appendix.
The study also gathered data on the psychological and demographic attributes of the respondents that are likely to affect their support for social inclusion policies. The findings revealed that social awareness is positively associated with support for social inclusion policies, whereas beliefs in meritocracy and social dominance demonstrate a negative association.
The findings also suggest that, apart from education level and contact with marginalised groups, factors such as age, gender, income and other demographic variables do not appear to significantly influence respondents’ support for social inclusion.
SFSIS enables evidence-based interventions
Dr Lee said: “Understanding the level of public support for different groups and types of policies is crucial as it helps policymakers prioritise and justify policy decisions. Effective social inclusion policies require public understanding and, increasingly, co-creation. The SFSIS provides policymakers with a better understanding of the challenges faced by socially excluded groups in society, enabling them to develop evidence-based interventions to address these issues.”
“Our survey results found that policies supporting sexual minorities received the weakest support from society, despite recent reports of progress in the fight for their legal and social rights. It is an indication that further public campaigns to enhance public acceptance of marginalised groups’ rights and social participation is mandatory,” added Dr Lee.
Appendix: Survey results on different policy measures using SFSIS
Persons with disabilities
Set up a sheltered workshop in your neighbourhood
Expand peer support services for persons with autism
Encourage participation of people with disabilities in community decision-making
Criminalize discrimination against a person on the ground of disability
Educational institutions are required to ensure there is support in place for children with special education needs
New immigrants from the Mainland
Establish career training courses tailored to new arrivals from mainland China
Set up a community centre for new mainland Chinese arrivals in your neighbourhood
Encourage participation of new arrivals in community decision-making
Criminalize discrimination against new arrivals from mainland China
Host multicultural activities in schools with the assistance of new immigrant students’ parents
Criminalize discrimination against ethnic minorities
Subsidize ethnic minorities’ participation in Chinese language courses
Public campaign to encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of ethnic minority groups
Grant right to work to asylum seekers and refugees
Set up a community centre for ethnic minorities in your neighbourhood
Legalize same-sex marriage
Require all employers to include a clear declaration of non-discrimination toward employees of all sexual orientations
Support for laws against LGBTQ discrimination
Public campaign to encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of homosexual people
Encourage participation of homosexual people in community decision-making
Encourage older residents to join the discussion on city development with various parties
Subsidize elderly people to travel on public transport at a concessionary fare of $2 per trip
Criminalize age discrimination in the workplace
Open an elderly hostel in your neighbourhood
Offer visiting services to elders