Does low income translate into lower mobility? An investigation of activity space in Hong Kong between 2002 and 2011

Sui Tao, Sylvia Y. He, Mei Po Kwan, Shuli Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Daily mobility of disadvantaged social groups, particularly low-income people, has gained increasing interest since the daily life of these people may encounter significant constraints that lead to certain social issues such as social exclusion and segregation. The concept and measure of activity space have been applied to measure the spatial barriers and inequalities faced by the low-income group in their daily life. However, research on how the daily mobility of different social strata has evolved over a longer period in parallel with urban development has been very limited. This study aims to address these gaps by investigating the activity space of the low-income group in comparison with other income groups in Hong Kong from 2002 to 2011, a period when several subway lines were opened. Four indicators were employed to capture the spatial extent and diversity of activity space. Propensity score matching was used to compare the activity space and mobility of the low-income group with those of the below-average and higher-income groups, while controlling for several confounding factors. The findings indicate that the activity space of the low-income people has not improved over the decade, despite some marked expansion of public transport infrastructure and urban development. In addition, a persistent gap in activity space between the low-income group and other income groups has remained stark in both urban areas and the new towns. Policy recommendations are put forward with a view to improving the daily mobility of the low-income group, with avenues for future research identified as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102583
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Activity space
  • Equality
  • Low income
  • Mobility
  • Social exclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • General Environmental Science


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