Understanding educational inequality in Hong Kong: secondary school segregation in changing institutional contexts

Beatrice Oi yeung Lam, Soo yong Byun, Moosung Lee

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7 Scopus citations


Since the mid-1990s, important education policy changes, such as the growth of Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools and the reform of the medium of instruction (MOI) policy, have been made in Hong Kong. Little is known about their impact on school segregation and educational inequality. We address this issue using six successive cycles of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study data. We found evidence for rising levels of secondary school segregation in terms of family socio-economic status and mathematics achievement from 1995 to 2011, whereas segregation declined from 2011 to 2015. We speculate that the salience of the MOI policy in expediting the segregating tendencies of the DSS sector might explain a growing magnitude of the effect of family socio-economic status on academic achievement between 1995 and 2011, and the reversed direction of such trends between 2011 and 2015. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1170-1187
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number8
StatePublished - 17 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Global Research Network program through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A2A2040115); Penn State Population Research Institute, which is supported by an infrastructure grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2CHD041025). This research was also supported by a visiting fellowship from the Seoul National University Asia Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Educational inequality
  • Hong Kong
  • school choice
  • school segregation


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