Cross-border im/mobility of skilled migrants from the U.S. to China: a capital-mobility framework

Yining Tan, Wei Li, Takeyuki Tsuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The number of skilled migrants moving from the Global North to the Global South has been increasing in recent decades. This paper develops and employs a capital-mobility framework to analyze empirical evidence about the new international migration of skilled U.S. migrants to the Pearl River Delta Region of China. Guided by the literature on im/mobility and capital, this paper asks the following questions: What affects skilled U.S. migrants’ mobility to and from China? How do they experience the dynamics of voluntary and involuntary immobility in China? Drawing on 58 semi-structured interviews, we found that the level of capital accumulation and its transferability and convertibility influenced migrants’ mobility and immobility. In addition, the global outbreak of Covid-19 facilitated mobility for some while hindered mobility for others. This study discusses the differences between North-to-South and South-to-North skilled migration and conceptualizes im/mobility as a continuum experienced by skilled migrants during their migratory trajectories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3327-3347
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Skilled migration
  • capital
  • immobility
  • mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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