Labor Market Effects of the 1992 Chinese Student Protection Act

Pia Orrenius, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Madeline Zavodny, Agnes Scott College
Emily Kerr, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

The Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and ensuing government crackdown affected the Chinese not only at home but around the world. The U.S. government suspended all forced departures among Chinese nationals present in the U.S. as of June 1989. The Chinese Student Protection Act (CSPA), passed in October 1992, made those Chinese nationals eligible for lawful permanent resident status. The CSPA covered an estimated 80,000 Chinese 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 skilled Chinese immigrants who potentially were affected by the U.S. government’s actions. Relative to immigrants from Hong Kong, who were not eligible under the CSPA, skilled immigrants from mainland China experienced employment and earnings gains during the 1990s.

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Presented in Session 115: Immigration and Public Policy