Why Do Skilled Women and Men Emigrating from China to Canada Get Bad Jobs?

Janet W. Salaff, University of Toronto
Arent Greve, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH)

We examine the career achievements of 50 professional couples that immigrated from China to Canada. We contrast past careers in their country of origin with those in the host country several years after immigration. We further compare types of barriers for different occupational subgroups, and finally, the performance of women and men in the two countries. We frame the paper in terms of competing theories of human capital and institutional theories. Human capital theory explains their past career achievements in China, but explains poorly why job contenders are shunted away from fields in which credentials are entrenched. The institutional framework explains employees' career attainment in terms of social recognition of career paths. Institutional concepts do better in explaining the structural barriers to achievement that affect those in the controlled professions, and especially women. We discuss data on other skilled ethnic groups in Canada, and US immigration policies for skilled workers.

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Presented in Session 121: Demography of Asian Americans and Asian Canadians