Gendered income inequality and the precariousness of street trading


Gender differences and the precariousness of street traiding

In the HK census there is an occupation category designated as street traders. The fact that there is a specific category tells us something about the state of being in Hong Kong. The census tells us that there are nearly 15.5 thousand steet traders in Hong Kong, but actually there are probably more, as a lot of the street trading is illegal and people may also do it on a part-time basis. What this info-graphic demonstrates, is that firstly street trading is a precarious business for everyone, but particularly for women.

The ratio of male street traders to female traders counted by the census is 3 to 2. The reasons for the income differential is unclear. It may be that women have locations that are less profitable. It may be that the goods that women street traders sell are less valuable so overall earnings are less. Some evidence from studies done in the 1970’s and 80’s indicate that street trading is often a family business and women work as family labour. We just don’t know as street trading is something that many at government level in Hong Kong wish would just go away. It clearly isn’t and as International Women’s day passes, it is also clear that there is further work to be done with regard to gender equity at all levels of society and all over the world.

red coversThe 2011 HK census has a new online feature where you can make your own tables. The website can be found here.

If you want to make your own infographic, you might try Pictochart, which is how I made this one.

Everything on 4 legs, except the table

There is a saying about the food culture in China that what is edible includes everything on four legs, except the table. Of course, the food culture includes a whole host of things with fewer legs as well. As a result I was not surprised that the recent European Horse Meat scandal has not had much of a ripple here in Hong Kong, with the exception of the local Ikea stores supposedly withdrawing their meatballs (as reported in the Huffington Post).  Continue reading

Ya Ma Tei Fruit Market

YMT Market

Wholesale Fruit Market build in 1913.

In the center of Mong Kok is what appears to be an old, run-down market; its single-story stature at odds with the high-rise buildings that surround it.  If you wander past by day you might think that the market is just hanging on as only a few sellers on the periphery will be open and selling fruits.  A meander through might also leave you thinking this is largely an abandoned space, and yet it beckons. Continue reading

Do you know where that box comes from?

Wet Market Boxes

Have you ever wondered about the life of that recycled cardboard box that your child’s new toy came in?  Many of these boxes will have come from Asia, where there are armies of elderly people who collect them and then recycle them as a way to make extra money to make ends meet. This practice is another side to neoliberal approaches to economic freedom.  Continue reading