Youth are both key participants in debate and a central theme in the discourse on social issues in Hong Kong. Youth are often problematized in the contemporary media and political discussion as lacking in the work ethic, confidence and social skills necessary to be successful. Hong Kong youth are framed as pathologically shy, anti-social, lazy and entitled and these characteristics are used to present an image of Hong Kong youth as having individual characteristics that lead to their challenges in the job market and their characteristics as political rogues. This study approaches the characterization of Hong Kong youth with an intention of gaining a clearer picture of individual characteristics related the problematized image of Hong Kong youth, namely Generalized Self-Efficacy (GSE), a notion connected to a variety of traits. The study is based on community surveys of youth (N=2036) using the GSE instrument conducted in the New Territories communities of Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long, communities known for high rates of poverty, and public housing. GSE characteristics are analyzed using descriptive statistics, Cronbach’s alpha for internal consistency, factor analysis to verify the dimensional nature of the scale. The relationships between GSE and age and gender were analyzed using multiple linear regression model. Findings indicated that despite a slightly higher, yet statistically significant GSE scores for females, and little impact of age on GSE, Hong Kong youth have normal levels of GSE. This finding offers a counter to the pathologizing of youth’s individual characteristics, and implies the need for a shift in discourse toward more targeted examination of the structural issues that act as barriers to social mobility of today’s young people in Hong Kong.

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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. This article first appeared in Asian Education and Development Studies 9, no. 1 (September 27, 2019): 117-27.

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Spires, Bob, Howington, Eric, and Rojewski, Jay. "Generalized self-efficacy of youth in the new territories: A community survey conducted by a Hong Kong NGO", Asian Education and Development Studies, (January 1, 2019): 117–127.