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Soc Biol. 1998 Fall-Winter;45(3-4):172-93.

Discrimination and Chinese fertility in Canada.

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Massachusetts Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.


The study examines Chinese fertility in Canada in the context of minority-status and fertility. Chinese-Canadians are compared with British-Canadians, who are considered in this analysis as the majority group. The study is unique in three ways. First, we argue that discrimination brings a minority group not only psychological insecurity but also social-economic insecurity, which can be measured by Chinese husbands' economic status relative to the British. Second, we analyze the relationship between discrimination against the Chinese at the social class level and Chinese fertility behavior at the individual level, which has been ignored by most previous studies. Third, we describe "insecurities" effects to explain the fertility behavior of the Chinese across social classes, including the lower classes to which many researchers believe the minority status hypothesis is not applicable. We conclude that discrimination variations over social classes combined with normative influence are a major factor in causing class fertility differentials between the Chinese and the British in Canada.


This study explored direct indicators of discrimination and insecurities among minorities in Canada. The study also explored the impact of discrimination and insecurities on the fertility behavior of native-born and Canadian-born Chinese across social classes. Data were obtained from the Public Use Sample Tape of the 1991 Census. Discrimination was measured as the ratio of annual income per schooling year of minority members divided by the same value of majority members--Relative Economic Status (RES). RES in this study is computed at the social class level. Findings indicate that Chinese husbands had inferior RES at 3 educational levels (high school, university, and masters degree plus). RES among Chinese at the elementary and junior high levels were favorable. Thus, discrimination in wages and social class was greater at higher occupational and educational levels. Chinese women worked more time than British women with the same education, but unmarried Chinese women at most educational levels worked less than British counterparts. Chinese had higher fertility at the junior high school level and lower fertility at higher levels of education. Findings reveal that Chinese husbands' economic insecurity had a positive impact on their wives' childbearing. Contextual analysis revealed that Chinese husbands' RES had a positive effect on children ever born. Chinese fertility is affected both by minority status and pronatalist ideology. Findings support the thesis that RES in a given class combined with normative influence could be critical factors in affecting class fertility differences between the Chinese and British in Canada.

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