Demographic and Socioeconomic Status of China's Minority Ethnic Population: Any Closing of the Gap?

Loraine A. West, U.S. Census Bureau

In the 1990s China experienced enviable economic growth but at the same time also faced rising inequality. One dimension of inequality that is of concern to government officials is the socioeconomic gap between minority ethnic groups and the Han majority. This paper examines recent trends in the demographic and socioeconomic status of China's ethnic groups, utilizing data from the 2000 and 1990 population censuses and a county-level data set that combines 2000 census results with other economic statistics. The paper assesses whether the ethnic gap is narrowing or widening and discusses the factors underlying the trends. Education attainment and employment are the major socioeconomic indicators evaluated in the paper. Changes in the geographic concentration of minority ethnic groups between 1990 and 2000 and the potential leveling effect of migration are also evaluated. Multivariate regression analysis is used to further disentangle the link between ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

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Presented in Session 110: Racial and Ethnic Differences in Schooling: International Contexts