Why are Chinese workers WORTH MORE than Filipino workers in the job market?


For all the noise about the growing number of Chinese workers flooding the Philippines, very few “activists” have raised this most important question of all.

Why do Chinese workers attract bigger wages than Filipino workers?

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Furthermore, it seems employers of Chinese workers in the Philippines are willing to take significant effort and incur the cost required to import, house, and settle them. Clearly there is something about choosing Chinese workers over Filipino workers that makes business sense.

It very likely comes down to labour productivity — how much output of value a worker delivers per capita hour. If businesses go through the trouble and cost of preferring Chinese over Filipino workers, there may be something about how well one works compared to the other. Clues surrounding Filipino labour productivity can be found in Nick Joaquin’s seminal piece A Heritage of Smallness where he observes…

The Filipino who travels abroad gets to thinking that his is the hardest working country in the world. By six or seven in the morning we are already up on our way to work, shops and markets are open; the wheels of industry are already agrind. Abroad, especially in the West, if you go out at seven in the morning you’re in a dead-town. Everybody’s still in bed; everything’s still closed up. Activity doesn’t begin till nine or ten– and ceases promptly at five p.m. By six, the business sections are dead towns again. The entire cities go to sleep on weekends. They have a shorter working day, a shorter working week. Yet they pile up more mileage than we who work all day and all week.

It is worth reiterating that last couple of sentences where Joaquin highlights a confronting fact about the economic realities of labour productivity in advanced societies.

“They have a shorter working day, a shorter working week. Yet they pile up more mileage than we who work all day and all week.”

It seems Filipinos evaluate the “issue” of Chinese workers “stealing jobs” from Filipinos on the basis of an assumption that is begging to be challenged. Challenging that assumption requires the question to be reframed thus…

Are Filipinos better workers than the Chinese?

Perhaps framed this way, the issue becomes a more substantial one to reflect upon. If Filipinos reflect on the right questions, only then will the more truthful answers emerge.

12 Replies to “Why are Chinese workers WORTH MORE than Filipino workers in the job market?”

  1. I’d hazard a guess at the #1 reason: Chinese workers, broadly speaking, won’t steal everything that isn’t nailed down.

    Second reason is that they’re less likely to spend the whole day scheming how to get one over on the boss, goofing off, or fiddling around with Facebook.

    Filipino fundamentally don’t understand the social contract involved in employment:

    1) I do some work for you
    2) you give me some money in exchange, commensurate with the value of that work.

    The Filipino view of employment is more like this:

    1) You give me some money

    And that’s about it really. In some cases, there’s this:

    2) If I’m not happy with the money you give me, I’ll stab you in the back and take your stuff.

    So as well as dealing with the depredations of the BIR, the endless stupid “procedures” for Philhealth, SSS, Mayor’s Permits and the like, the average employer has an additional layer of stress caused by the people who are supposedly running his business for him. He can’t do anything about the government, so anyone with any sense will fix the one thing he has control over: his employees. Employing foreigners will have an immediate impact on your productivity and blood pressure.

    However I’m surprised this option is even available. In most cases, businesses are forced to employ locals to “protect Filipino jobs”.

  2. i think you are evaluating different types of people here, the reason for the disparity in working-hours.

    while those with 5 day workWeek in Europe are normally at the helm of their Job, the 6 day-workWeek to which you compare are the production-type workers.

    and the ones observing from that vantage are the Upper-Echelon of the Asian countries 🙂

    you may do well to compare the Truck/Trailer drivers of America, and you will surely find a good equation.

    1. I wonder where your information comes from ?

      As a European ( British ) I joined the workforce in 1970 in a major retail bank,working a 35 hour (9 to 5) 5 day(Monday to Friday) week. In the mid-90s, I ended up driving a bus. Contractual 39 hour 5 day week,although many felt the management was still in the Stone Age as the default option was to roster for a 6 day week,having to opt out of the sixth day.

      Check the French working hour legislation for probably the most restrictive in Europe.

      As for American truckers, you have to compare like for like, employee drivers against owner/operators. With the strength of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters,I find it hard to believe their members are exploited to the level you imply.

      1. am only talking about the 6-day work week here, the number of days which i would compare to the regular work-week length here in the Philippines for manufacturing or construction work.

        tho, i met an American trucker who was a husband of one of my friend, healthy at an age of 40plus years and died abruptly, and was told due to overwork and little sleep.

  3. I support people’s ability to get the job if they’re qualified, I have ask, what jobs are these distraction activists complaining about? Most of what I’ve read are foreign firms mostly from China hiring their own countrymen for construction work in several big projects. And there’s the question of skill quality of the worker in question and how much wage he’d agree upon, that’s how the Chinese are seen back then in the 2000s when the WTO approved, many companies moved their production to China because of low regulations and low-wage but skilled workers for the Chinese, ethical questions aside, that’s how their work ethic is, they work hard, follow and respect the hierarchy in the work environment, and finally adapt their business with good investment and knowing how their local. That’s how we got many Chinese-Filipino business who become billionaires. Chinese culture has a problem with innovation, but when it comes to working and rising up to the top in an established system, they can prosper.

  4. Chinese culture has a problem with innovation— I agree. There’s a theory that considers the topic. The prosperity part is debatable. As mentioned here before, Filipinos are not lacking in talent, and could even go beyond expectations. But I guess I’m just an optimist in that aspect.

  5. I have been to Beijing and Hongkong and observed how their water utility company workers work. I have seen on site repairs of their underground water system and only saw three plumbers working complete with all the safety gears and tools. Compared to us we have at least five wearing slippers or worn out rubber boots.

  6. In the U.S., in mostly manufacturing facilities, working hours begin at 7 in the morning, and ends in 3 in the afternoon. Busy manufacturing companies work more than 8 hours a day. The management people comes in at 9 in the morning and leaves at 5 in the afternoon. Busy companies have 3 shifts, morning, afternoon and nights.

    Some business that deals in prototyping parts and designs work at odd hours.

    The government should regulate the Chinese workers invading our work force. In high technical jobs; maybe Chinese companies, have a hard time finding Filipinos, at such skill level. Our technical and engineering schools teaches, obsolete courses, that are not on the level of todays’ technology.

  7. “They have a shorter working day, a shorter working week. Yet they pile up more mileage than we who work all day and all week”. The reason? We in the Western world work smarter and so do the Chinese evidently. Hard work and long working hours don’t equal achievement. As Jim Rohn put it, mistaking movement for achievement is one of the major major errors in judgement that the poor make.

  8. The previous company I worked for fell because of chinese manager. the chinese stole the technology from the Filipino boss, and founded his own business with it. Talking about stabbing at the back eh? How does your article fits with my current European boss who disdain chinese sounding names?

  9. NETFLIX has a documentary called “American Factory” , it’s about a Chinese Company taking over an abandoned GM plant in Dayton, Ohio and how these Chinese workers schooled these American workers who used to be GM employees on how to work faster with efficiency. But later on they want to go back to the Union(UAW), the Union who let the GM plant go in the first place and left them all high and dry, they never learn.

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