Is Local Language a Necessary Pathway to Immigrant’s Labor Market Integration? the Case of Hong Kong

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Yuying TONG, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Wenyang SU, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Upon immigration to a society, gaining the proficiency of native language in the host society has often been seen as a necessary pathway to the labor market integration. Immigrants who lack of language proficiency have often been suffering from labor market disadvantage. However, this conventional wisdom may be challenged when the economic sectors are largely linked with outside economy. Hong Kong is such a case. In Hong Kong, the local language is Cantonese, thus we should expect immigrants who gain the proficiency of Cantonese should perform better in labor market. However, due to its open economy system as a global city and mainland China oriented economic system, people who speak fluent English or Madeiran may be even in a more advantaged situation. Using Hong Kong population census data from 2001 to 2016, we will examine the impact of spoken language on people’s labor market outcome. Since 2016 data is not available yet, the analysis based on previous census from 2001 to 2011 has showed such a pattern. After obtaining the more recent data in 2016, we will examine the temporal change of language ability on immigrants’ labor market outcome to shed light on the influences of changing economic context in the host society. We will merge the economic sectors data with the individual level census data together to examine the impact of changing economic context on importance of language proficiency on immigrants’ labor market outcomes.