Ethnic Stratification amid China’s Economic Transition: Evidence from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Wu, Xiaogang, and Xi Song. 2014. "Ethnic Stratification amid China’s Economic Transition: Evidence from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." Social Science Research, 44: 158-172.

This paper analyzes a sample from the 2005 mini-census of Xinjiang to examine ethnic stratification in China's labor markets, with a special focus on how ethnic earnings inequality varies by employment sector. We show that Han and Uyghur Chinese dominated different economic sectors. Excluding those in agriculture, Uyghurs were more likely to work in government or institutions than either Han locals or migrants, and also more likely to become self-employed. The Han–Uyghur earnings gap was negligible within government/public institutions, but increased with the marketization of the employment sector. It was the largest among the self-employed, followed by employees in private enterprises and then employees in public enterprises. Han migrants in economic sectors enjoyed particular earnings advantages and hukou registration status had no impact on earnings attainment except in government/public institutions. These findings have important implications for understanding social and economic sources of increasing ethnic conflicts in Xinjiang in recent years.

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Country of focus: China.

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