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Who are China’s Typical Expats?

The survey shows that 74 percent of expats in China are male, and most of them can't speak Chinese

11·13·2014

Who are China’s Typical Expats?

The survey shows that 74 percent of expats in China are male, and most of them can't speak Chinese

11·13·2014

As China’s economy and cultural prominence grows, expats from around the world and all walks of life flock to the Middle Kingdom. While one of the oldest expats in China has lived here over half a century, one recent survey asked the question, “Who are China’s typical expats?”

The short answer: overwhelmingly male and illiterate. According to the China Society for Research on International Professional Personnel Exchange and Development, 74 percent of expats in China are male. In terms of nationality, 34 percent come from North America, 28 percent from European countries and 21 percent from Asia. A whopping 73 percent of them barely speak Chinese — even though 30 percent have been living in China for 5-10 years and 20 percent have been here for more than a decade. Clearly, companies looking for expat workers aren’t interested in providing Chinese lessons.

Along with summarizing demographics, the survey asked what expats what they didn’t like about their lives in China. Aside from language barriers and constant visa-renewing troubles, the majority of foreign expats are concerned with education for their children, and medical and social insurances offered by their employers.

Of the 2000+ foreigners who participated in survey, more that 70 percent are satisfied with their lives in China, and 75 percent of their employers said that they were satisfied with their expat employees. Just 17 percent expressed a little dissatisfaction with their lives, but still wished to continue working in China. Fortunately, only 3.3 percent reported to be extremely dissatisfied with their professional lives, and wanted to leave as soon as their contracts terminated.

Foreigners in China complain a lot about pollution, racism, and the inability to secure permanent residency status. Despite all this, one study showed that China is actually the best place for expats looking to make money. The Chinese government is still unsatisfied with these results, and in fact, they think “China needs to do better to hire and keep professional expats.” So hang in there, semi-professional English teachers!