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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - International Migration Review
Title Chinese Immigrants in the US Labor Market: Effects of Post-Tiananmen Immigration Policy
Author(s)
Volume 46
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 456-482
URL https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/58772/1/715286455.pdf
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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