Generalized self-efficacy of youth in the new territories

Bob Spires (Department of Graduate Education, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, USA)
Eric Howington (Department of Management, Valdosta State University College of Business, Valdosta, Georgia, USA)
Jay Rojewski (Department of Workforce Education, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Publication date: 27 September 2019



The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into the generalized self-efficacy (GSE) of youth in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Youth issues have been at the forefront of political discourse in the region and often youth are presented in the media as having fundamental deficits, which are tied to growing inequality and lack of social mobility. This study offers more perspective of the characteristics of Hong Kong youth to contribute to the literature as well as influence the discourse on youth and youth issues.


The study is based on a community survey of youth in the New Territories of Hong Kong with over 2000 respondents. The survey was based on a valid and reliable instrument on GSE to measure the GSE of youth in the region. GSE characteristics are analyzed using descriptive statistics, Cronbach’s α 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.

Research limitations/implications

The study focused on GSE, which is correlated with other constructs such as confidence, but not established in causal relationships with other variables. More research is needed to link GSE and confidence in these groups, as well as links to structural issues that may impact various youth characteristics.

Practical implications

The study offers insight, which could be used to inform Non-Governmental Organizations and educational programs targeting disadvantaged youth. Programs that pathologize youth characteristics may be able to employ the findings to shift approaches toward more targeted skills-building as well as programming addressing structural barriers.

Social implications

The study offers a counter-narrative to the contemporary deficit view of today’s youth in Hong Kong. This study provides basis for shifting the discourse away from situating social issues in Hong Kong at the individual level with youth, and toward structural, societal level influences on inequality and social mobility of younger generations.


Although GSE has been measured across the globe, this study sought to target the GSE of a group that has been framed in the media and political discourse as lacking in a variety of important characteristics. This study’s findings offer a counter-narrative to the generally negative attitudes toward youth as shy, lacking in confidence, antisocial and without a strong work ethic.



This study was made possible through a collaboration between the researchers and Hong Kong-based registered charity Project Share.


Spires, B., Howington, E. and Rojewski, J. (2019), "Generalized self-efficacy of youth in the new territories", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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