Type of Regime
How would we characterise Hong Kong in terms of the social policy and housing regime typologies discussed in Chap. 3? Chiu (2008b) labels it a ‘Liberal Interventionist’ regime, which sounds somewhat contradictory but captures the paradoxical reality. In some respects it might be seen as more ‘corporatist’, given the priority accorded to supporting economic development, whilst in other respects the strong role of the state is more reminiscent of socialist or social-democratic regimes.
This is a clear case where path dependency can be seen to apply, particularly in the tenure structure and the strong role of public housing. Public housing was initially created by a strong bureaucracy as a response to a crisis, then expanded to provide a broader response to the challenges of immigration and industrial growth. This can be seen as part of a broader growth strategy through ‘collective consumption’ alongside investment in education and welfare (Castells et al. 1990; Chen et al. 2014). Access to free publicly owned land has always been critical to financial viability and delivery, whilst having a mature public housing stock provides an asset base for further development without heavy injections of subsidy, as argued by Kemeny (1992, 2001). Public housing at 36 % of the total is clearly a mainstream tenure, not a stigmatised, residualised one. However, without a large rent-regulated private sector, Hong Kong could not be characterised as having a ‘unitary’ rental market.