Whether poorer areas have poorer access to health and social services, or the “deprivation amplification hypothesis,” gains attention from researchers and policy makers as if this is true it would exacerbate health and social inequalities. However, data from Hong Kong do not support the theory, according to a recent study.
Researchers used three indicators of service availability and accessibility to study 28 types of services (e.g. hospitals, supermarkets, child-care centers, etc.) across five categories of areas of different 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,” the authors wrote.
“Previous studies, mostly from Western settings, tended to focus on only limited kinds of services using one or two spatial accessibility indicators. Capturing only one aspect of spatial accessibility to particular services may lead to misguided policy making. Our findings highlighted the importance of the choice of indicators and the context in which these indicators were applied,” said Dr. Shu-Sen Chang.
Dr. Shu-Sen Chang, an associate professor at the National Taiwan University College of Public Health, was the corresponding author of the paper “Do Poorer Areas Have Poorer Access to Services in Hong Kong? A Small-Area Analysis Based on Multiple Spatial Accessibility Indicators” published in Social Indicators Research.
The study was part of the thesis of Dr. Yingqi Guo, who was the first author of the paper and recently completed her PhD study under the supervision of the senior author of the paper: Dr. Paul Yip from The University of Hong Kong. Dr. Shu-Sen Chang co-supervised Dr. Guo’s PhD study. Co-author Dr. Mengni Chen also obtained her PhD from The University of Hong Kong last year.
Guo, Y., Chang, S.-S., Chen, M., & Yip, P. S. F. (2017). Do Poorer Areas Have Poorer Access to Services in Hong Kong? A Small-Area Analysis Based on Multiple Spatial Accessibility Indicators. Social Indicators Research, 138(1), 1-21.