Monday, April 30, 2007


HK Filipinos Join Foreign Domestics in Big March-Rally Against Wage Cuts
Thousands of Filipino migrant workers joined foreign domestics from various nationalities in a big march-rally in Hong Kong to protest proposed wage cuts and the abolition of live-out arrangements. Organized Filipino domestics said President Arroyo had already supported the Chinese authorities’ twin moves.
Thousands of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) from various nationalities marched on the streets of Hong Kong Sunday to protest the proposed wage cuts and abolition of live-out arrangements. Filipinos, who compose the bulk of domestics on the Chinese island, made up the main contingent of the march.
The march, led by the Asian Migrant Coordinating Body, began at the Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to the Central Government Offices in Central.
The Filipino contingent, allied under the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-HK), challenged the Philippine Consulate officials to join the big march-rally.
“Mean what you say,” Connie Bragas-Regalado, Unifil-HK chair, said. “Go beyond diplomacy. Turn your verbal opposition into action. March with Filipino domestic helpers against the anti-migrant policies of the Hong Kong government. Show your unwavering support to our struggle.”
Doubts on Arroyo
The challenge came in the wake of uncertainties raised by some sectors regarding the sincerity of the Arroyo government in supporting the Filipino domestics’ opposition to the proposed wage cuts and abolition of lived-out arrangements.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Consul General Maria Zeneida Angara-Collinson had stated that they are concerned about the wage cut proposal. But the Philippine consul general has publicly endorsed the abolition of the live-out arrangements by saying that the proposal would not "'adversely affect" domestic helpers.
Although the Philippine consulate, along with other foreign consulates, declared they will wage a “diplomatic offensive” with the Hong Kong government on the issue of pay cutbacks, there have been reports that, in her visit to Hong Kong last October, Arroyo had agreed to the plan as well as on the abolition of live-out arrangements. She made as a condition that the jobs of Filipino domestics are not affected.
Last week, at least 31 federations of Filipino migrant workers, church and support groups in Hong Kong demanded the island’s Education and Manpower Bureau to drop its plans to lower the wages of foreign domestics by January next year and other recent anti-migrant proposals.
Maintain minimum wage
The groups, including the Unifil-HK, Association of Concerned Filipinos, Friends of Bethune House and Filipino Friends in Hong Kong also asked the Chinese government to maintain the current low minimum wage of foreign domestics and allow them to live out of their employers’ homes.
In a statement, the groups cited one legislator, Choy So-yuk, who asked that wages of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) be reduced to HK$2,500 a month. They also said that the reason given by the Bureau for its plan – economic slump - is no different from what they claimed in 1998 when they lowered wages by 5%.
The Bureau’s plan came two weeks after it also moved to abolish the living-out arrangements of foreign domestic purportedly to protect the jobs of Chinese domestics. The plan is set to be implemented early next year.
Yet another move by Hong Kong authorities, as proposed by legislator Frederick Fung Kin Kee, is to limit the number of FDHs in the island to 100,000 in order, they said, to protect the jobs of Chinese workers. The proposal however is under further discussion in the light of fears by other authorities that the reduction of quota could lead to a shortage of domestics on the island.
Most lowly-paid
“We are opposed to lower our wages because as we stated in 1998, foreign domestic helpers are already the most lowly paid foreign workers in Hong Kong,” the groups said in their statement. “Since 1991, our wages have increased by only 3 times, the last of which was in 1996, when our wage was $HK3,860. Since the hand-over of Hong Kong to China, not only was there a wage freeze, but a wage cut of 5% in 1999.”
The organizations reminded Hong Kong authorities that the presence of FDHs contributes not only to the Chinese economy but also liberates local women from household chores thus enabling them to find work and increase the earnings of their families.
Reports said that foreign domestics – many of them Filipinos – usually work an average of 16 hours a day aside from being on call for 24 hours.
“They are given crucial responsibilities by their employers, like taking care of the children, elderly and in fact of the whole family,” the groups said. “Since most of them live in their employer's house, they are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation like being made to do illegal work by their employers.”
Lowering the wages of foreign domestics, they said, would lower their purchasing power thus further depressing the earnings of local retailers. It would also affect the remittances that they send back to their families who are faced by rising prices of basic commodities and services.
‘Racist and anti-migrant’
The groups denounced Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower Philip Chok Kin-fun for suggesting that FDHs are a factor in Hong Kong’s economic slump and for denying labor authorities are being “racist and anti-migrant” whenever government lowers the minimum wages of migrant workers.
In the first place, the groups said, Choc Kin-fun should realize that foreign workers were not behind the economic crisis in Hong Kong. Authorities, they said, are indeed racist and anti-migrant whenever migrant workers, especially domestics, become the target of a series of minimum wage cutbacks, infringements on other rights such as abolishing maternity benefits, imposing a service tax on maids and a levy on employers of FDHs.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Labor Market Descrimination: American-Born Filipinos

Yamane, Linus. 2002. “Native-Born Filipina/o Americans and Labor Market Discrimination.” Feminist Economics. 8(2): 125-144.

The study discussed in this article draws on data gathered from 1990 US census to determine whether American-born Filipinos and Filipinas experience labor market discrimination. To do this, Yamane compares the incomes and positions of both Filipinas and Filipinos with non-hispanic white women and men. Yamane also attempted to examine the effects of gender discrimination in the comparisons. In addition, the study tests for any differences in the extent of discrimination experienced by Filipinos with different levels of education and in different regions of the country.

Yamane’s study did find Filipino Americans face significant levels of discrimination in the labor market. Less clear, however, is how the factors of gender and race operate and influence each other.


The sample from the census used to examine native-born Filipinos and non-Hispanic whites was comprised of persons between 25 and 64 who worked full-time (at least 35 hrs/wk), were not self-employed, earned at least $3,000, and worked for at least half of 1989.

To estimate the degree of discrimination experienced by Filipinos, Yamane, uses the “Oxaca Decompisition” (a tool economists use to examine racial and gender discrimination). The process involves examining characteristics (age, education, experience, hours worked, weeks worked, region of residence, industry, occupation, and marital status) that are theoretically relevant to the determination of wages. Estimates are made to determine the effect each characteristic influence the wages earned. Using the outcome of various equations, Yamane could compare actual wages with the estimation of earnings if treated the same as non-Hispanic whites. Similar calculations were used to estimate discrimination in terms of job advancement and wage levels compared to education levels obtained.


In separate examinations, Yamane compared Filipinas to both white men and women, but both comparisons revealed that Filipinas are disproportionately more likely employed in occupational categories like administrative support, domestic services, the hospitality services, and retail sales (cashiers). They are also underrepresented in “professional specialty occupations,” like elementary school teachers, as well as skilled labor jobs like machine operators, assemblers, and assembly inspectors. However, in comparison to white men, Filipinas were also disproportionately in occupations hospital-related services (nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants) and underrepresented in production, craft, and repair occupations.

In Yamane’s comparison of Filipino males with white males, it was revealed that Filipinos are disproportionately represented in administrative support, protective services (like security guards), technical support, hospitality services, retail, and the military. Like Filipinas, Filipinos are underrepresented in professional specialty occupations (like teachers), machine operators and in management.

In regards to wages, Yamane found no statistically significant difference between those earned by Filipinas and white women. However, compared with the earnings of white men, Filipinas were estimated to earn 20-24% less (statistically significant at the 5% level). Another finding that was statistically significant, Yamane found that Filipino men earn 1-4% less than white men in terms of annual wage and salary.

In comparison of regions, the calculations indicate that Filipino men and women generally do better in the West (with the exception of California and Hawaii) and they fair worst in the South and Northeast. However, in comparing by gender, Yamane did not find a strong relationship between the level of discrimination faced by Filipino men and Filipinas in the same regions.

Although there seemed to be some expectation that Filipino regional population size would impact the outcome, the varying results for Hawaii, California, the West, and South (some of the regions where the population is most significant) indicated to Yamane that there is not a clear relationship between discrimination and population size.

As far as access to advancement is concerned, Yamane’s evidence suggested that Filipino Americans are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to be promoted to a supervisor or manager level position. Yamane does point out, however, that the source for the study – census data – does not distinguish between varying levels of status that could accompany the title of “manager” and it does not indicate whether higher positions were offered, but rejected or simply denied.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Socio-Economic Status of Native Hawaiians

Reynolds, `Aukai. 2006. “Native Hawaiian Data Book.” Office of Hawaiian Affairs. (

The OHA’s report summarizes reports from The Kamehameha Schools, Policy Analysis and System Evaluation (PASE); the State of Hawai’i Dept. of Health, Dept. of Public Safety, Dept. of Hawaiian Homelands, Dept. of Business, Economic Development & Tourism; University of Hawai’i, US Dept. of Commerce, and the US Census Bureau.

It contains detailed information on the Native Hawaiian population, but with a few exceptions, it does not provide much comparative information with the rest of the state or nation. Given the small percentage of the population Native Hawaiians comprise, overrepresentation of Native Hawaiians in the service and retail industries is implied by the high concentration of the native population in those industries.


There are approximately 401,162 Native Hawaiians in Hawaii and the continental US, with about 60% (239,655) Native Hawaiians residing in the State of Hawaii. According to the report, population forecasts predict that while the state population continues to increase, the Native Hawaiian population is slowly decreasing. The cause is allocated to the increasing cost of living and limited economic opportunities.

Statewide, 62% of Native Hawaiians living in Hawaii have annual household incomes under $50,000. On the island of Molokai, 43% of Native households have incomes under $24,000 and 75% of households with incomes under $50,000. Oahu and Maui have the largest percentages of households with income over $50,000 (49% and 48% respectively). According to the data in the report’s “Human Services” section, in 1999 Native Hawaiian-headed families have a poverty rate of 14.1%. – and 31.3% in households headed by a female Native Hawaiian-headed household with no husband present. This is well above the national poverty rates for whites (Social Solutions to Poverty, Scott Myers-Lipton, 2006).

While Native Hawaiian males and females over the age of 16 have, on average, a higher rate of employment than the US average (approximately 72% and 65% respectively), they also are more likely to be unemployed compared with those on the continental US. Most Native Hawaiians are employed in the private sector as salaried workers. The second largest segment of Native Hawaiians is employed as government workers. Compared with the rest of the US population, Native Hawaiians are less likely to be employed in managerial and professional occupations (25% of Native Hawaiians compared with 34% of the rest of the US population).

Close to half (44%) of the population is employed in the service industry (Business Services, Accounting, Amusement & Recreation, and Personal Services). Other industries include retail (11%) and construction (7%). The report concludes that an increase in the number of Native Hawaiian-owned businesses is necessary to increase the wealth of Native Hawaiians.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Channeling Migrants into Industrial Sectors

Ellis, Mark, and Richard Wright. 1999. “The Industrial Division of Labor among Internal Migrants to the Los Angeles Economy.” International Migration Review 33(1): 26-54.

This article seeks to identify the processes by which groups of native- and foreign-born migrants are channeled into particular industrial sectors. Ellis and Wright (1999) present a comparison of the employment of recent arrivals and the residents of several ethnic groups in the regional economy of Los Angeles, California Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA). The study also takes into consideration educational attainment and the qualifications which play a role in the distribution of migrant groups into particular occupations.

Ellis and Wright (1999) note that in the 1970s and -80s, since migrants to Southern California faced an array of jobs, then a portion of the new arrivals from each migrant racial group should have come to occupy jobs that were outside of “existing ethnic employment concentrations” (p.30). The proportions of new arrivals filtering into certain jobs vary, due to three possible reasons. The strength of ethnic group networks relaying job information between residents and migrants is a variable upon which the chances of new migrants finding work in an ethnic niche depends. The second reason for different proportions of new arrivals in certain jobs is the size of a racial-ethnic group’s work force (that constitutes of residents), in relation to the racial-ethnic group’s immigrants. If the migrant flow of a racial-ethnic group’s new arrivals is small, relative to the group’s residential work force in a particular job, then the new arrivals may more easily posit into the ethnic niches. It follows, then, that if the migrant flow of a racial-ethnic group’s new arrivals is large, relative to the size of the group’s work force, then not all of the group’s immigrants will be able to occupy the ethnic niche. As a result, migrants may occupy other sectors in which there is no existing concentration of the racial-ethnic group. The last factor that influences the dispersal of migrants of racial-ethnic groups into particular occupations is the different levels of education and skills required for certain jobs. The greater the skill differences between residents and migrants, then the greater the difference between the distributions in employment of co-ethnic residents and migrants. Migrants utilize ethnic networks and skills to find employment.

Ethnic networks serve as a more efficient source of employment for racial-ethnic groups’ immigrants than for the group’s native residents. However, not all of these groups’ networks are strong. The utilization of a combination of resources, such as ethnic networks, education, and most importantly, skill, influences the allocation of immigrant racial-ethnic groups into occupational sectors.

The data used for the study was obtained from the Public use Micro Samples of the U.S. Census (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1983, 1993). The study defined four major categories of workers: resident native-born, resident foreign-born, recent in-migrant, and recent immigrant. While the study analyzes aggregate employment patterns of in-migrant and immigrant groups, the majority of the research consists of the comparison of individual groups. The six largest immigrant groups were analyzed. Making up 72% of the immigrants into Los Angeles CMSA between 1985 and 1990, these groups – Mexicans, Salvadorans, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Koreans, and Chinese – each have more than 10,000 recent migrants in the work force, thus providing for sufficient numbers for a significant analysis of the economy of the Los Angeles region.

The employment distribution of Filipino residents is closest to that of Filipino immigrants. Filipinos, Koreans, and Chinese immigrants occupy sectors in which these groups’ residents work. Mexicans, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan residents are the least likely to have co-ethnic immigrants occupy their sectors.

Ellis and Wright note a division of labor by education within groups of native white, black, Chinese and Filipino migrants. In the case of Koreans, however, recent arrivals and Korean-born residents work in the same sectors at all levels of education. Regardless of years of education, new Mexican arrivals occupy the same sectors as the least educated residents (of all racial-ethnic groups). Unlike other racial-ethnic groups, Mexicans do not concentrate into sectors in which co-ethnic residents are employed.

Future Research: As the data is somewhat dated by about 20 years, newer information would be more useful. Future research could explore any changes in the economic and social structure, in terms of availability of certain jobs, of Los Angeles, as well as take into account new patterns of immigrant waves.

The Impact of the Structure of Ethnic Diversity in the Workplace

Enchautegui-de-Jesus, Noem`i, Diane Hughes, Kristen E. Johnston and Hyun Joo Oh. 2006. "Well-being in the Context of Workplace Ethnic Diversity." Journal of Community Psychology 34(2): 211-223.

In this study, the authors examine how ethnic diversity in the workplace affects the overall mental and psychological well-being of workers of color. As well as looking at the individual effects, this study looks at the topic of ethnic diversity in the workplace as important because
it reflects society's changing face of the American blue-collar worker.

This article defines diversity as "the representation of different social categories often based on gender, race, or ethnicity, in an organization"(212). Based on this definition, the authors examine two important concepts on ethnic diversity, which they base the study's hypotheses. One end of the cultural spectrum is tokenism, which is "a segregated work environment in which the minority group comprises less than 15% of the working group"(212). The other end of the spectrum is the concept of ethnic minority concentration, which is when a workplace has workers that are concentrated to one ethnic group.

The purpose of this study was to first, examine the psychological functioning, life-satisfaction, job satisfaction, and over all well-being of workers of color. Second, the authors wanted to test the differences between workplaces that had workers of color with a high ethnic proportion. The overallhyopothese was that a workplace that had a proportion of above tokien level of diversity and lower ethnic minority concentration, would create a better working environment, and in turn, a happier worker.

The researchers collected their data fron The Survey of Minority (MIDUS), which is a survey based on a stratified sample of men and women, ages 25 and older. The survey sampled African Americans and Dominicans in New York City, Mexicans in Chicago,andPuertio Ricans in both cities. Respondents were asked questions on their highest level of school completed, median income, years at job, and job position. Also asked was the ethnic composition of their workplace, whichethnicity's were dominant or sparse, and the worker's overall feeling of being a worker
of color in a low-wage job. Most respondents had only graduated from high school and their median income was $25,000-$29,999. 57% of respondents were immigrants.
Results of this study found that people who worked in a more balanced environment (no high or low levels of co-ethnic workers) reported a more positive level of job satisfaction than workers in a tokien or ethnic minority concentration environments.

The authors of this article felt that the topic of workers of color must be
looked at because people of color are overrepresented in low-paying,low-status jobs. Also, because the growing numbers of workers of color in America are changing the face of the U.S. labor force. The questioning of ethnic composition in the workplace is important for creating a positive environment for all workers and for understanding of the impact of the structure of workplace.

Future Research: As the authors suggest, there needs to be further research on this topic that expands to the topic of the ethnicity of employees at different levels, types of jobs, the working environment, and the quality of working relationships in low-wage, low-status jobs.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Preference Theory: Sex Segregation

Hakim, Catherine. 2006. “Women, careers, and work-life preferences.” British Journal of Guidance & Counselling. 34:279-294.

Trying to find some sort of theoretical background as to why there is occupational segregation, I came across an article identifying how the US and Britain have tried to solve the problem of gender discrimination/segregation in the workplace. Although there has been an increase of women working in the labor market, and family-friendly policies have been set in place to somehow offset the gender inequalities, Catherine Hakim (2006) from the department of Sociology in the London School of Economics, and other sociological theorists agree that neither one of these “make any major positive difference to gender equality in the labour market, as indicated by levels of occupational segregation, the pay gap and the glass ceiling”. On the Contrary, they exacerbate these problems” (281).

The fact is, although women might be able to join the work force, if they want to have children and a family, they cannot work the long irregular hours, travel for work, or be full time. That is, part-time jobs that would pay the same wages as full time jobs are a rarity in the US and Britain. On the other hand, many men who are married and have children have the “luxury” of mentally and physically working for 24 hours a day, because their wives are at home with the children (Harkim 2006). Therefore, even if there are more women in the work force, they are working in low-income part time positions. An example of this type of low-paying job would be a school teacher.

In addition employers and other employees feel it is unfair for women to get child leave, while the rest of the workers are working overtime to do the work left by the mothers who are on leave. Here, the employers are angry because they are forced to pay extra to the overtime workers, and the other employees are jealous because they do not get any paid leave (Harkim 2006).

Harkim examines two types of occupational segregations 1-Horizontal and 2-Vertical. The former means segregation by choice of job, for example, men might choose to be carpenters while women might choose to be school teachers. The latter means segregation when men monopolize the dominant job positions. With that said, Harkim writes that macro-level studies cannot tell anything about the social processes at the micro-level. “It is wrong to assume that a low percentage of women in higher-grade jobs is necessarily due to sex discrimination alone” (285). She suggests examining the women with dominant positions—most are childless, or have only one child, and these women express so-called “masculine” characteristics, thereby perpetuating dominant male ideals.

To express another reason why there is sex segregation, Harkim suggests “Preference theory” predicts the polarization of work-lifestyles. “Preference theory specifies the historical context in which core values become important predictors of behaviour” (286). Harkim’s table of preferences shows approximately 20% of women are “home-centered” (stay-at-home moms), 60% of women are “adaptive” (try to balance work and home life), and 20% of women are “work-centered” (work-a-holics, mostly childless) (288). From this spectrum, Harkim claims that men remain dominant and sex segregation continues because only a minority of women are work-centered. Since part-time jobs are rare, in relation to sustaining a family while working, women choose jobs like teachers, or seasonal/ temporary occupations.

The implications of this are that increased women in the labor market does not matter, equality policies are misdirected because they overlook people with other life goals. Furthermore the wage gap and glass ceilings persist because high paying part-time work rarely exists. Finally, so-called equity policies create a jealous atmosphere for those who do not get gender neutral policies for paid leave.

As for the future, Harkim suggests gender-neutral policies, like the ones in the Netherlands, where anyone has the right to ask for part-time hours, rather than part-time wages. Also, mothers should not be the only ones with paid leave; other workers should get longer paid vacations or paid leave for their personal reasons.

Future Research:

Would this phenomenon be similar for migrant women, or even migrant men? Is sex segregation or racial segregation a cause of differing life goals? What cities, racial-ethnic groups are affected most?