Do couples of Chinese men and Western women struggle with wealth or income? That’s the question a friend posed to me by e-mail.
In the past, I’ve written about obstacles that couples of Chinese men and Western women will face in employment and earning power:
Even with a favorable visa (for example, a permanent resident card), [Chinese men] will face discrimination in hiring for jobs [in English-speaking countries] if he doesn’t: 1) know how to “perform” in job interviews; 2) have a degree from your country (remember, news about China has primed them to be suspicious about China, including Chinese credentials), or; 3) speak good English. As Jessica explains, “my husband has no marketable skills—he’s a career musician—and speaks no English. Guess where we’ll be living for the foreseeable future?”
….If your Chinese husband is not very highly educated or highly paid, you’ll almost always earn more than your husband if you live in China because of the discrepancies between expat and local salaries. A lot of Chinese men cannot handle a foreign wife as the primary breadwinner. Even Jessica’s husband, who is pretty accepting, still has trouble with the reality: “My husband is extremely unconventional and doesn’t mind being a stay-at-home dad for now. But, even for him, it gets to be a bit of a bummer that I make in a month what he used to make in a year and that he can’t contribute meaningfully to our family income at this point.”
But do these obstacles necessarily translate into financial setbacks for the rest of your life?
On a personal level, I know that John and I weathered many hardships which have crippled our earning power. Remember the discrimination I revealed last year? I can’t give you exact details, but we sustained a major financial blow. And for much of the time we’ve stayed together, I’ve taken on the responsibility of “bringing home the baozi” (earning the money, that is ), including some periods where we’ve survived on my income alone.
But that won’t last forever. He will graduate and then find a job in China, so the investment in my husband’s graduate school education will finally pay off. I also see the potential for growth in my own writing career after we return to China.
Overall, I feel as if the challenges we faced together made us stronger, and made us want to fight that much harder for a better tomorrow — including in terms of income/wealth.
But I’ve got other reasons to feel optimistic.
For example, there’s this report from the Pew Research Center from 2012, which noted that couples of Asian men and White women in the US had the highest combined income of any other pairing (yes, you read that right). Of course, we have to put these stats in perspective (after all, this groups together all Asian men in America, both foreign and native born), but the findings suggest some exciting potential for couples like us.
Lately, I’ve also noticed articles like this NYTimes piece: China’s Job Market Tightens for Young Foreigners. The flip side to it is, there are great opportunities for Chinese returning with advanced degrees. That’s why John and I will return to China — and perhaps it might make you and your Chinese beau rethink that decision to settle overseas.
Of course, not everyone will feel my optimism. Maybe you’re still not settled in your career, or maybe he isn’t, and you’re not sure where to go next. Perhaps you — like Jessica (quoted in the above article) — have a husband with “no marketable skills” who doesn’t speak your native language either, so study abroad is out of the question for your guy.
But as they always say, if there’s one constant in our lives, it is change. And that means your wealth — and fortunes — can change over time. So to all of you out there facing financial hardships, may you find prosperity in 2013.
What do you think?