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Social Change, Cohort Quality and Economic Adaptation of Chinese Immigrants in Hong Kong, 1991-2006

Publication Abstract

Zhang, Zhuoni, and Xiaogang Wu. 2011. "Social Change, Cohort Quality and Economic Adaptation of Chinese Immigrants in Hong Kong, 1991-2006." Asia and Pacific Migration Journal, 20(1): 1-29.

This paper analyzes a series of population census and by-census data from 1991 to 2006 to examine the economic adaptation of Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong, focusing on their employment, occupational and earnings attainment. We pay particular attention to the adaptation of immigrants over time, and the effect of changes in the (overall) quality of the immigration cohort as a result of the immigration policy shift after Hong Kong's reunification with China in 1997. Results show that at the time of entry, mainland immigrants were less likely to be employed, more likely to be trapped in elementary occupations and to be earning much less than the natives. As they stayed longer, the gaps tended to decrease, but most immigrants were unable to reach parity with the natives with respect to earnings throughout their working lives. Men generally adapted at a faster pace than women. While new immigrants after 1997 fared worse in terms of employment and occupational attainment compared to those who arrived earlier (before 1997), there is no evidence to suggest that the changing cohort quality had any significant effect on overall income inequality.

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Country of focus: China.

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