Social Change, Cohort Quality, and Economic Assimilation of Chinese Immigrants in Hong Kong, 1991-2006
This paper analyzes a series of population census and by-census data from 1991 to 2006 to examine the economic assimilation of Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong, focusing on their employment, occupational and earnings attainments. We pay particular attention to the assimilation 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 earned 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. The pattern differed by gender in that men generally assimilated at a faster pace than women. No evidence suggests any significant effects on overall income inequality due to changes in the (overall) quality of the immigrant cohort after 1997.
Country of focus: China.