Explaining the International Mobility of Chinese Workers, 1992-2012

Author Name ZHANG Hongyong (Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. April 2015 15-E-045
Research Project Global Markets and Japan's Industrial Growth
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Using unique panel data on the temporary movement of Chinese workers to 186 economies during 1992-2012, I investigate the patterns and determinants of labor mobility in the services trade. I estimate a gravity model of labor mobility in two categories, namely, overseas labor services and overseas contracted projects. I find that distance (proxy for migration costs) and income are not the most important determinants of the latter. For overseas contracted projects, the dispatch of workers is not driven by their pure economic aims but by the Chinese government's policies and strategies such as its overseas project promotion policy. Furthermore, I employ propensity score matching with the difference-in-difference estimation method to investigate the impact of this policy upon labor mobility. The results show that the policy of promoting overseas contracted projects has causal and strong positive effects on labor mobility in construction-related sectors.

Published: Zhang, Hongyong, 2018. "Understanding the international mobility of Chinese temporary workers," The World Economy, Vol. 42(3), pp. 738-758