Changing Cohort Quality and Socio-Economic Attainment of Young Chinese Immigrants in Hong Kong after the Political Handover

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
CLM.3.04 (Clement House)
Chung Yan Ip, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Stephen Wing-kai Chiu, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, Hong Kong-Mainland China relations have become more tense during the rapid integration between the two places in recent years.  A main target group attacked by the local Hong Kong people is new immigrants from the Mainland, who have arrived in Hong Kong for less than 7 years and hence not yet claimed permanent residency.  Controversy over the goods and harms of these new Chinese immigrants to the local society has been emerged.  On the one hand, they are labelled as “parasites” competing for local social and welfare resources.  It was argued that these low skilled immigrants and their families have contributed to the rising income inequality in the local society.  On the other hand, owing to their younger age, they are packaged as a valuable source of workforce especially when Hong Kong population starts to age.  The government claims that immigrants from the Mainland will be the main source of the population growth. 

A broader discussion over these issues is about the socio-economic attainment of immigrants and the changing quality of immigrant cohorts.  In the context of Hong Kong, it was documented that after its return to China, immigration policy has started to change by allowing more Mainlanders (especially Mainland spouses and children of local Hong Kong people), who are younger and less educated, to reside in Hong Kong for family reunions.  Nevertheless, to attract investors, talents, and high skilled individuals, other immigration schemes have been introduced since 2003 and over 100,000 Chinese immigrants came to Hong Kong via these schemes.  Against this backdrop, we ask: Has there been a changing cohort quality in newly arrived Chinese immigrants over the past decade?  Are there differences between groups of these Chinese immigrants from different immigration schemes in terms of their socio-economic attainment?  To what extent, are the socio-economic attainments of these new Chinese immigrants comparable to those of Hong Kong natives?  Are these immigrants a valuable source of labour for Hong Kong? 

Using sample data from 2001 and 2011 Population Censuses, we shall attempt to compare the education, occupation, and earnings attainment between Chinese immigrants and Hong Kong natives.  Young people aged between 15 and 29 will be the focus of this paper.  Among the young Chinese immigrants, distinction will be made in terms of the duration of them residing in Hong Kong.  As such, differences between sub-groups of young Chinese immigrants in terms of socio-economic attainment over time and the existence of changing cohort quality among these groups could be disentangled. 

We expect that the findings will have implications not only on the effects of different immigration schemes on quality of manpower supply in the ageing workforce, but also on the socio-economic attainment of Chinese immigrants arriving in Hong Kong at different life course stages.  While the former sheds lights on the immigration and population policies, the latter points to the education and youth policies on increasing the chances of new immigrants in receiving university education.