The mixed employment experience of the UK’s Chinese groups

Chinese minorities in the UK are often regarded as a migrant ‘success story’, given high levels of educational attainment and average high wages. New research published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies suggests that the picture may be more complicated.  Analysis of the the UK Labour Force Survey showed that for both wages and employment there are differences in labour market experience across five distinct Chinese origin groups: Taiwan and Malaysian-born, Mainland, Hong-Kong-born, Vietnamese-born and UK-born. While the Taiwanese and Malaysian Chinese do well, Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong-born experience substantial wage penalties. This can be linked to employment in ‘traditional’ industries associated with the Chinese ethnic economy.  In additional all groups except the Taiwanese and Malaysian Chinese face penalties within these industries, within which substantial proportions work. The analysis suggests that far from being a homogeneous ‘model minority’ UK Chinese are a diverse group whose outcomes are shaped by their different migration patterns, and the extent to which they are restricted to low-paid types of work.

All Look the Same? Diversity of labour market outcomes of Chinese ethnic group populations in the UK by Tze Ming Mok and Lucinda Platt