Saturday, February 21, 2015

Three links on African immigration to China

1. I'd like to point people towards Africans in China, a blog maintained by researcher Roberto Castillo. This blog concentrates on the African immigrant community in Guangzhou, its development and its issues.

2. Yucheng Liang's study "The causal mechanism of migration behaviors of African immigrants in Guangzhou: from the perspective of cumulative causation theory", published in 2014 in The Journal of Chinese Sociology, draws on ethnographic interviews and statistical analyses to argue that African immigraiton to China can be expected to continue and that China should innovate accordingly to try to minimize potential problems.

This study tests international migration theory, especially cumulative causation theory, by looking into the causal mechanisms of international migration behavior among African immigrants in China by using the respondent-driven sampling method since African immigrants in China belong to a small hidden population. This method collected a representative sample (N = 648) from two locations in 2011. The paper reveals that the immigration behaviors of African immigrants in China from 2005 to 2011 have characteristics similar to international immigrants in initial stages - the cumulative causal effects of immigrants' social capital was continually strengthened during the reproduction of migration behavior in the sending countries. Consequently, given the sustainable economic growth and maintenance of a stable society in China, the scale of future transnational immigration (including illegal migration) will continue to expand. The paper proposes that at the present stage, existing policies should raise the entry threshold of African immigrants into China in order to mitigate the speed and scale of migrants' social class decline.

It's also quite interesting to note that, far from Guangzhou and the south of China, in the Zhejiang city of Yiwu in the lower Yangtze basin, another African immigrant community is starting to take form. I point readers specifically towards the 2010 article "From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging facets of the African Diaspora in China" (PDF format), written by Adams B. Bodomo and Grace Ma and published in the International Journal of African Renaissance Studies - Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity. This article suggests that, owing to a variety of factors, Africans have better experiences here than in Guangzhou.

Yiwu Africans also experience constraints in their Chinese sojourn but these are not different from what any foreigner living in China would experience: linguistic misunderstandings, cultural differences, and even having to put up with socially unacceptable practices like spitting profusely. But Yiwu Africans, in most cases, are treated respectfully by Zhejiang law enforcement officers. Civil liberties are well respected. For instance, freedom of worship among these Africans seems to be one of the highest in China. There may be a number of reasons why this difference is there. One, it may be that Africans who number less than 30,000 in Yiwu can be contained easily. Two, most of the Africans in Yiwu are from the Magbreb region of Africa, while most Africans in Guangzhou are from Sub-Saharan Africa. My fellow West Africans in Guangzhou report that even the brutal Guangzhou police treat Arab Africans more respectfully than Black Africans. But, third, and more importantly, the difference, we propose here, is due to the differences in efficiency and fairness on the part of Yiwu law enforcement officers such as the police and immigration officials. We propose here that, partly as a result of these differences in treatment, and also if Yiwu gets more developed into an international trade centre, it may overtake Guangzhou as a model residential city for Africans and many foreign businessmen from developing parts of the world, such as West Asia and Latin America. In that sense then, Guangzhou is missing an early opportunity as a model multi-racial business city in China.

If in fact the majority of African migrants in Yiwu are from the Maghreb, this does suggest at least the potential for Yiwu to start attracting migrants from the wider Arab world. The role of Islam in binding together Chinese and non-Chinese Muslims, meanwhile, is also noteworthy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Taiwan's Growing Multiculturalism"

Sinclaire Prowse's article in The Diplomat noting the continuing evolution of Taiwan, via international migration, into a more multicultural society is worth a read. A sample below:

Migration trends over the past two decades have seen an impressive increase in the number of foreign permanent residents in Taiwan from 1,649 in 2005 to 10,811 at the end of 2014 (excluding residents from mainland China). In 2014, for the first time, the number of first and second-generation immigrants living in Taiwan exceeded the population of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.

Two of the biggest factors leading to the recent increase in immigration to Taiwan include the creation of permanent residence in 1999 and the relaxation of rules applying to the financial, health, and criminal records of immigrants. Some of the largest groups of foreign residents now living in Taiwan include Indonesian, Vietnamese, Japanese, and American-born nationals.

At the end of 2014, important draft amendments to the Nationality Act were announced. Under the proposed reforms, foreigners applying for Republic of China (ROC) citizenship will not have to renounce their original citizenship. These changes would mean that foreigners could be dual-nationals.

This is a very important step in the right direction. But Taiwan faces large challenges as it grows into a more cosmopolitan society.

Taiwan’s past immigration policies have reflected a perception that Taiwan is essentially a mono-cultural society based on a narrow shared ethnicity and culture. Public and political discourse on multiculturalism has solely focused on the indigenous population, Chinese mainlanders, the Hokkien and the Hakka people. Combined with Taiwan’s isolated political situation, this has not aided Taiwan in becoming more open, competitive, and vibrant.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Depopulation: An Investor's Guide to Value in the Twenty-First Century"

Earlier this month, Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen linked to an interesting-sounding new e-book available on the Amazon Kindle platform, Depopulation: An Investor's Guide to Value in the Twenty-First Century by Philip Auerswald and Joon Yun.

Depopulation is a solid, inexpensive, and fairly quick read. Just 70 pages in length, Auerswald and Yun's e-book does what it promises in providing its readers with a quick look at some of the likely economic consequences of eventual global population decline. What asset classes will be hardest hit? Will it even make sense to own assets for investment purposes? How is migration, both intra-national and international, likely to change things? What sorts of policies might be adopted to ameliorate the effects of this change? What other unexpected consequences might come of all this? That the authors can't provide firm answers is owing to the relative novelty of the situation facing an increasingly large majority of the world population.

My substantial disagreement with the authors relates to the idea of competition over resources. Even in a hypothetical world of falling global populations, resource scarcity could still easily be an issue. I could imagine a future world less populous than ours but one with more competition over a resource, whether because potential consumers are wealthier and better able to make claims upon a resource (real estate, say, or some natural resource) or because the natural resources available are falling more quickly than the relevant population. This disagreement is more a matter of emphasis on my part than a substantial objection, mind.

I liked Depopulation, as a thought-provoking guide to our changing world's future. I think that you would, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"A story of drinkers, genocide and unborn girls"

I wanted to briefly note that, over at Quartz, David Bauer has an interactive essay taking a look at the different factors in different areas of the world which lead to widely varying sex ratios. Female-selective abortion, male-heavy migration, changing patterns of life expectancy, demographic trends in the BRICs versus ost-Communist countries versus high-income countries--it's all there.

Friday, February 06, 2015

"A possible compromise on the census?"

Aaron Wherry of MacLean's notes the defeat of a parliamentarian's bill to reinstate Canada's long-form census, and notes said parliamentarian's proposed compromise.

Ted Hsu’s bill to reinstate the mandatory long-form census was defeated last night by a vote of 147 to 126. Every opposition MP voted in favour, but nearly every Conservative voted against—Michael Chong was the only Conservative to vote in favour. By that turnout, Hsu would have needed another 11 Conservatives to support him.

It’s difficult to parse all those nays without a full survey, but I imagine it could conceivably be some combination of political, ideological and practical concerns with the bill (the legislation is more complicated than a simple reinstatement of the long-form census). Hsu does point to the fact that both Michael Chong and Brent Rathgeber supported his bill as “a little bit of evidence that this is not something small-c conservatives are necessarily opposed to.”

Hsu told me this morning that he’s happy with the attention his bill generated and that he’s going to continue to press the issue. He also mentioned a compromise that he has brought to the attention of Industry Minister James Moore (whose responsibilities include Statistics Canada).

The long-form census has about 50 or so questions, you don’t have to make them all mandatory. If you had eight more mandatory questions, two education, two employment, two income and two about dwelling, which are those kind of major sections of the long-form census, you could use the mandatory answers from those eight extra questions … to reduce the sampling bias from surveying the rest of the questions in a voluntary manner.

… So we know, for example, that lower income people tended to not return the national household survey, the voluntary survey. But let’s say you made one question mandatory, namely household income. Then you would have a really good idea of the income level of people and you could use the answer from that mandatory question to adjust the answers from the rest of the income questions to adjust for the fact that fewer lower income people answered the rest of the questions about income.

Just like the mandatory long-form census is used to correct the sampling error in all sorts of voluntary surveys that you do following the census, if you made a few carefully chosen questions mandatory … you could correct the sampling bias for the rest of the questions that you left voluntary.

Failing that, I would note that Canada is set to have national elections this year. If the Conservative governent falls, I doubt either of the two political parties best-placed to challenge it--the centrist Liberals and the more left-wing NDP--would be likely to have problems. The 2011 data is compromised, but future data sets will hopefully be complete.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

"The Year Having Kids Became a Frivolous Luxury"

Back on the 22nd of January, Slate's Jessica Grose posted at the Double XX blog looking at changing attitudes towards parenthood in the United States.

There have been many prominent pregnancy and child care–related issues in 2014, from the UPS pregnancy discrimination case that was recently argued in front of the Supreme Court to the publicity around the scheduling software that makes child care arrangements impossible for working-class parents. In reading and writing about these issues, I’ve noticed a depressing sentiment: Having children is now often framed as a frivolous lifestyle choice, as if it’s a decision that’s no different from moving to San Francisco or buying a motorcycle. If you choose to buy that Harley or have that baby, it’s on you, lady.

When I’ve written about middle- and upper-middle-class parents wanting benefits like paid parental leave, this is the typical sort of comment people make: “I see no reason to subsidize women’s fantasies of ‘having it all.’ ” As if raising children is just about pinning another badge to a Girl Scout sash. When I write about working-class parents just trying to make ends meet and find safe child care for their offspring, the comments are even crueler: “If you can't afford a dog, don’t get a dog. If you can't afford a kid, don't get a kid.”

Though these sorts of reactions aren’t brand new, I’ve been seeing more of them. So I decided to ask June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, both law professors and the co-authors of
Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family and Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, about where the framing of children as a lifestyle choice comes from, and whether my suspicion that there’s an uptick in people treating child-bearing as this kind of consumer choice is true.

There are two slightly different things going on. For wealthier parents, the turn against child-rearing happened in the late ’90s and early aughts, when childless white-collar workers started grousing about the benefits that workers with children received, from tax breaks to more flexible work hours. This coincided with a critical mass of mothers in the workforce. Cahn, a professor at George Washington University, points to the 2000 publication of Elinor Burkett’s
The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless, as an expression of the growing resentment of parents.

[. . . ]

So what’s going on? When Carbone and Cahn wrote their 2010 book,
Red Families v. Blue Families, they described the blue state model of parenting as the kind where people defer child rearing until “both partners reach maturity and financial independence.” Red families have a different model—they promote abstinence until marriage and are pro-life, and so people get married younger, and there are higher rates of teen pregnancy among red families. There used to be sympathy for young parents who were struggling to get by in the “red” model.

Blue families have long preached and practiced “responsible parenting,” which is that you shouldn’t have children you can’t afford. But the shift is that red families are now also on the “responsible parenting” bandwagon.

As Grose concludes, in an economic environment where the perceived costs of parenthood have risen substantially while jobs capable of supporting families disappear, the spread of this sort of attitude does much to make parenthood even more difficult. Given the ability of sub-replacement fertility to worsen economic outcomes in the medium to long term, this perception of scarce economic resources necessarily discouraging family formation might even be called self-destructive.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Three links from The Diplomat on demographic issues in Asia

I discovered the Internet magazine The Diplomat, concerned with affairs in the Asia-Pacific region, via Robert Farley's posts at Lawyers, Guns and Money. Three recent posts at The Diplomat have dealt with demographic issues Demography Matters has looked at in brief.

Paul R. Burgman Jr.'s "China: Embracing Africa, But Not Africans" makes the argument that racism, and problems with integration of Africans and China and of Chinese in Africa, complicate Chinese-African relations.

Although Chinese involvement in financing infrastructure projects, debt forgiveness, and scholarships for African students to Chinese universities had given China a net positive image among various African countries in a 2013 Pew Research Global Attitudes Report, there remains room for improvement. While many African countries are very grateful for the economic partner that Beijing has shown it can be, allowing these countries to abandon or mitigate their sometimes rigid economic partnerships with the West, China must still convince Africans that its interest in their continent is authentic. By improving people-to-people relations, understanding, and mutual respect in a relationship that many Africans feel reeks of European colonial stereotypes, China and Africa can strengthen one of the 21st century’s most dynamic economic and strategic partnerships.

In a 2014 Al Jazeera report on African migrants in Guangzhou, journalist Jennifer Marsh highlighted the plight of African migrants trying to achieve their own Chinese dream in one of China’s most populated southern cities. Marsh writes “While the central government publicly welcomes the migrants, recent draconian visa legislation has sent a clear signal: Africans in China – even highly prosperous, educated economic contributors – are not welcome.” The Al Jazeera journalist’s story highlights the story of Cellou Toure, a Malian migrant whose small business suffered because of his inability to get a Chinese visa despite being married to a Chinese woman and having three Malian-Chinese children. Many Africans view situations like Toure’s as the hypocrisy of the Chinese government’s goodwill towards Africa, as African migrants witness firsthand the business success of Westerners who marry Chinese women and are allowed prosper legally in small and medium enterprises under the protection of the law.

All one has to do is scour the internet under the keywords, “Chinese prejudice against Africans in China” to discover a litany of blogs and articles on the experiences on young African migrants, students and travelers, many of whom are proficient in Mandarin, as they recount their experiences in China. In A Minority in the Middle Kingdom: My Experience Being Black in China former African-American expat, Marketus Presswood witnessed the racially charged atmosphere in his Chinese school and classroom, finding it increasingly difficult to hold on to his teaching jobs as an influx of white Westerners flooded the Chinese education market in the early 2000s. Presswood remembered overhearing one of his students remarking, “I don’t want to look at his black face all night.”

In "South Korea's Foreign Bride Problem", Philip Iglauer takes a look at the relatively high rates of domestic violence experienced by the country's many foreign-born wives.

Foreigners account for just 2.5 percent of the population in South Korea, but with a comparatively high number of deaths involving foreign women since 2012, experts from government and nongovernment organizations agree that migrant women here are particularly at risk to domestic violence.
They disagree on much else. According to a senior official at the Gender Equality and Family Ministry, language and cultural barriers are largely to blame for the domestic violence that caused the slew of disturbing killings.

“Think about it. Several decades ago, Korean women emigrated to Japan or America. They were poor. They didn’t even know who their husbands were. They didn’t speak English, so they couldn’t really often get out of the house. Their husbands started to ignore them. The wives didn’t work, they couldn’t cook American food,” said Choi Sung-ji, director of multicultural family policy at the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, in explaining the domestic violence faced by migrant women in South Korea.

“The situation is similar in Korea now. Women from Southeast Asian countries come here for a better living without really knowing who they are getting married to. They didn’t get married out of love.”

“Rather, they met them but through marriage brokers,” she said, adding “If they don’t speak the Korean language and do not understand Korean culture, then they are at a disadvantage. There cannot be an equal relationship. “

Mark Fenn's "The Harsh Life of Thailand’s Migrant Workers", meanwhile, looks at the difficult situation of migrant workers in Thailand.

There are an estimated two to three millions migrants from neighboring countries in Thailand, most of them undocumented and more than 80 percent of them from Myanmar, according to the International Labour Organization. Many have fled ethnic conflict, oppression and poverty at home.

Migrants make up around 10 per cent of Thailand’s workforce and are employed in a variety of sectors, including construction, agriculture, manufacturing, fishing and domestic work. In some sectors, such as seafood processing, they represent around 90 percent of the workforce.

Yet despite the vital contribution they make to the Thai economy, migrant workers too often face exploitation, low pay, and abusive working conditions. Often they are placed in jobs by illegal brokers and then have to pay back hundreds of dollars or more, meaning they are trapped in a form of bonded labor.

Many earn considerably less than the 300 baht ($9 dollars) a day minimum wage, and are forced to work longer than the eight hours a day mandated by law. They rarely get the one day off a week they are entitled to, and many are lucky to get even one day off a month, according to labor rights activists.

Work on construction sites and fishing boats can be dirty, dangerous and exhausting, and migrant workers are often at the mercy of abusive employers. Threats and intimidation are common, and beatings, rapes and killings have been reported by rights groups. In the fishing industry, where many migrant men and boys are literally sold by brokers, murder is said to be “obscenely common.” According to a 2009 United Nations survey, nearly 60 percent of 49 Cambodian men and boys trafficked to work on Thai fishing boats said they had witnessed a murder by the boat captain.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

"Two days to save the long-form census"

Aaron Wherry of MacLean's reports.

On Wednesday evening, the House of Commons will vote on whether or not to reinstate the mandatory long-form census. Perhaps all that’s standing between Ted Hsu’s private member’s bill and approval in principle at second reading is fewer than a dozen Conservative votes.

Hsu introduced his bill last fall. It received its first hour of debate in November and its second hour last Thursday. The government has expressed its opposition, while the Liberals and New Democrats seem lined up in support and I’m told both Green MPs will vote in favour. If every other vote of the Independents and smaller parties—seven Independents, two Bloc Québécois, two Forces et Democratie—went Hsu’s way, he’d have 143 votes. And that would leave him 10 votes short of a majority—there are currently two vacancies and the Speaker only votes in the event of a tie, so there are essentially 305 total votes in play.

Of course, that imagines perfect attendance, which is not generally achieved. For reference, consider NDP MP Kennedy Stewart’s motion on e-petitions, which passed the House last January by a count of 142-140, with eight Conservatives voting in favour.

Short of that, Hsu’s bill has at least served to highlight the mess that was created when the Harper government scrapped the mandatory long-form and replaced it with the voluntary “national household survey.” In short, researchers, city planners and hospital officials says it’s more difficult to understand what’s going on in our society—as predicted, the data produced by a voluntary survey is flawed (less reliable data coming, ironically, at a higher cost). Hsu has compiled a list of endorsements that includes the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Medical Association and has been posting expert explanations of why reliable data is important for good governance. (For further testimony to the problems created, see here, here and here. Former chief statistician Munir Sheikh, who resigned after Tony Clement publicly suggested Sheikh had supported the government’s decision, offered his assessment of the situation in 2013.)

In addition to restoring a long-form census, Hsu’s bill makes a number of changes to the process around the long-form census, including how the chief statistician is selected. Interestingly, Hsu’s bill would do something the government hasn’t gotten around to doing: eliminating the threat of prison time for refusing to fill out a mandatory census. Whatever the Conservatives’ concerns about that threat and whatever the government’s promises to repeal the law in question, they haven’t bothered to do anything about it. Instead, the Conservatives now point to a private member’s bill, introduced last fall and not yet debated in the House, that would remove the unused stipulation.

See also the CBC's report on the matter.