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Migration intentions and decision-makings of skilled Americans in China

Authors: Yining Tan*,
Topics: Ethnic Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: skilled migration, intellectual migration, migration intentions, China
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Recently, Global South has joined the race for talent to build a more innovative workforce. While much has been explored about skilled migrants from developing countries to developed countries (Castles, et al., 2013; Kofman, 1999; Lowell & Findlay, 2001) or their return to the homeland in the Global South (Alberts and Haze, 2005; Li and Yu, 2012), less attention has been paid to the emerging geographic trend of skilled migrants from Global North to Global South. This paper aims to explore the new geography of skilled migration from Global North to Global South by providing empirical evidence on skilled Americans in Pearl River Delta Region (PRD) of China.

Guided by the Intellectual Migration Framework (Li et al., 2015) which centers around the questions of WHO, WHY, WHERE, this paper asks the following research questions: 1) What are the motivations for skilled Americans to move to China? 2) Do the motivations vary by skilled Americans’ race, gender and occupation? If so, how? 3) How are their motivations shaped by the structural forces, destination locality, and individual social characteristics? Using semi-structured in-depth interviews and participant observation, this paper found that self-initiated skilled migrants moved to China for a variety of reasons such as career advancement, family unification, and lifestyle. Compared with the men counterparts, women skilled migrants exercised less agency in migration decision-makings. Additionally, the unbalanced power relations between migration sending and receiving country, the local employment market all contributed to shape the decision-making process of migrant individuals.

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