Migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong: contribute the most economically but also the most financially excluded

Migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong contributed an estimated US$12.6 billion to the Hong Kong’s economy last year, representing 3.6% of the city’s gross domestic product (GDP), the highest in Asia, compared to migrant domestic workers’ contribution of US$8.2 billion to Singapore’s economy (2.4% of GDP) and US$900 million to Malaysia’s (0.3% of GDP). However, it is also in Hong Kong where migrant domestic workers have the lowest level of financial inclusion in the region.  

Employing a migrant domestic worker for childcare in Hong Kong and Singapore is at least three times cheaper than alternatives such as childcare centres, and if it were not for the migrant domestic workers, only only 49% of Hong Kong mothers aged 25 to 54 would be able to rejoin the workforce.  

And yet, among the 385,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong, only 18% have bank accounts, partly due to a lack of financial literacy, with other reasons including strict regulations for opening bank accounts and a lack of funds. Migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong are therefore more likely to seek loans from unlicensed money lenders, with 83% in debt, and many end up being financially worse off when they return home than when they arrived to work in Hong Kong.  

Find out more about the FSI portfolio companies that are committed to addressing these issues: Migrasia‘s work on fair, ethical and transparent migration in Asia; EmpowerU‘s empowerment and education program which covers anything from financial literacy to #entrepreneurship, CPR training, arts and literature, child and elderly care, basic rights and many more; and lender friend, a social enterprise and mobile-first #ethical lending company that provides migrant domestic workers with the lowest interest rate on the market.  

Help EmpowerU provide $500 scholarships for 500 domestic helpers here!

About the Author:

An avid reader and passionate writer since a tender age, TC Li has spent the past decade honing in on her writing, translation, editing, and management skills as managing editor and communications manager, at advertising agencies and media and publishing houses. Constantly inspired by the ever-resilient Mother Nature, where the interdependence of various species enable lives on Earth to thrive and survive, TC believes we can all work towards a more sustainable and harmonious future for mankind through empathy and compassion.

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