The economic costs of protests and policy recommendations for preventing them: the case of Hong Kong

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to examine the economic costs of protests at micro-to-firm, market sector and aggregate levels. This paper then develops institutional policy recommendations for allaying these costs. Design/methodology/approach: This paper conducts a case study of the anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong by examining news articles, online discussions and economic indices from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department. This paper further develops policy insights from an analysis of the Hong Kong Basic Law (the city’s mini-constitution) and insights from economic research. Findings: This paper discovers that the protests may have caused overall volatility in firms, market sectors and the overall economy, measured in production disruptions, revenue losses and declines in employment. Among Hong Kong’s four major industries, the most severely stunted market sectors were tourism and retail, as well as trading and logistics, whereas financial services and professional and producer services experienced mixed effects. This paper develops two institutional policy recommendations for government and corporate policymaking for reducing volatility and ultimately safeguarding economic growth: the separation of political ideology and economics; the systematic use of public opinion analytics to pre-test the reception of policies. Practical implications: Corporate strategists and policymakers would benefit from and advance the economy by better insulating business decision-making from political biases and by investing in public opinion analytics. Originality/value: Much of economic theory treats social transformations as externalities. This paper adopts a different approach by foregrounding the role that social transformations play in shaping the economy. To this end, to the best of the author’s knowledge, this paper is among the first to examine the anti-extradition bill protests of Hong Kong, arguably the most significant and widespread protests in the city’s and the region’s history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-292
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Chinese Economic and Foreign Trade Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2021


  • Corporate strategy
  • Government and crisis management
  • Hong Kong
  • Protests
  • Public economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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