Earnings Growth Patterns of Chinese Labor Immigrants in the United States

Miao David Chunyu, Brown University

This is a longitudinal study of Chinese labor immigrants’ earnings in the U.S. Using a new dataset from the China International Migration Project, I examine Fujianese immigrants’ earnings growth over time and seek to explain their income changes and variations by factors pertaining to assimilation, context of exit, and context of reception. I rely on both longitudinal analysis methods and in-depth interview information, and find that these immigrants experience substantial income growth over time. Such growth can be explained by their accumulation of U.S. residence, changes in jobs and occupation, and movement into non-gateway areas. The exorbitant migration cost also exerts an upward pressure on their earnings. However, adjustment of legal status does not induce higher earnings, partly due to the reception by the Chinese ethnic economy. The Chinese ethnic economy also distinguishes itself from the general economy in the economic reward system and the overall wage trend.

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Presented in Session 83: Recent Trends in Minority Employment and Earnings in the U.S.