A Comparison of Reform-Era Labor Force Participation Rates of China’s Ethnic Minorities and Han Majority
Previous research suggests that minorities are not faring well in China’s transition—both income and occupational attainment gaps are widening. We are particularly interested in whether the differences in majority and minority economic outcomes are the result of ethnicity per se, or whether they are artifacts of local economic conditions. In this paper, we employ data from the three most recent population censuses of China to explore differences in the labor force participation rates of a number of China’s important ethnic groups. We estimate urban labor force participation rates using probit regressions controlling for sex, marital status, educational attainment, age, ethnicity, and location. We also account for the geographic concentration of particular ethnic minorities and compare the participation rates of different ethnic groups within geographic regions that represent the areas of principal residence for each minority. We concentrate on seven important minority groups: Hui, Koreans, Manchu, Mongolians, Uygurs, Yi and Zhuang. We find that location has limited explanatory power in explaining differences in the probability of labor force participation between these important Chinese ethnic minorities and the majority Han.
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