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Chinese Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market: Effects of Post-Tiananmen Immigration Policy

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Author Info

  • Orrenius, Pia M.

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas)

  • Zavodny, Madeline

    ()
    (Agnes Scott College)

  • Kerr, Emily

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas)

Abstract

The Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and ensuing government crackdown affected Chinese nationals not only at home but around the world. The U.S. government responded to the events in China by enacting multiple measures to protect Chinese nationals present in the U.S. It first suspended all forced departures among Chinese nationals present in the country as of June 1989 and later gave them authorization to work legally. The Chinese Student Protection Act, passed in October 1992, made those Chinese nationals eligible for lawful permanent resident status. These actions applied to about 80,000 Chinese nationals residing in the U.S. on student or other temporary visas or illegally. Receiving permission to work legally and then a green card is likely to have affected recipients' labor market outcomes. This study uses 1990 and 2000 census data to examine employment and earnings among Chinese immigrants who were likely beneficiaries of the U.S. government's actions. Relative to immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea – countries not covered by the post-Tiananmen immigration policy measures – highly-educated immigrants from mainland China experienced significant employment and earnings gains during the 1990s. Chinese immigrants who arrived in the U.S in time to benefit from the measures also had higher relative earnings in 2000 than Chinese immigrants who arrived too late to benefit. The results suggest that getting legal work status and then a green card has a significant positive effect on skilled migrants' labor market outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6287.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: International Migration Review, 2012, 46 (2), 456-482
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6287

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Keywords: employment; Chinese Student Protection Act; immigration; earnings;

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  1. Sankar Mukhopadhyay & David Oxborrow, 2012. "The Value of an Employment-Based Green Card," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 219-237, February.
  2. Kossoudji, S.A. & Cobb-Clark, D.A., 1996. "Coming Out of the Shadows: Learning About Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," CEPR Discussion Papers 347, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  3. Neeraj Kaushal, 2006. "Amnesty Programs and the Labor Market Outcomes of Undocumented Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
  4. Xiaohuan Lan, 2012. "Permanent Visas and Temporary Jobs: Evidence from Postdoctoral Participation of Foreign PhDs in the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(3), pages 623-640, 06.
  5. Xin Meng & Robert G Gregory, . "Impact of Interupted Education on Earnings: The Educational Cost of the Chinese Cultural revolution," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 40, McMaster University.
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