Transnational ethnic networks and the creation of immigrant social capital: A multilevel analysis

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This study examines the network determinants of post-migration social capital among a group of foreign wives living in Korea. Based on a newly collected dataset, which consists of representative samples of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese women, it analyzes how and to what extent the survey respondents' preexisting transnational ties to prior co-ethnic migrants in Korea influence their differential access to social capital. Two measures of social capital are used: the size of friendship network with native Koreans and the prestige score of occupational categories of the network contacts. Multilevel analysis reveals that while controlling for a host of individual- and contextual-level factors, ethnicity-based networks are significant in allowing foreign wives to build social capital in the host society. However, not all network relations have a uniform causal impact. Rather, they have a contingent role in the formation of post-migration social capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-358
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The dataset (N = 600) for this study consists of a sample of foreign females who have migrated to Korea for the purpose of international marriage. It includes Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese women who at the time of the survey were married to Korean citizens and living in the country. This project was funded by the Asia Fellowship Research Grant (2008) from the POSCO Foundation in Korea. The questionnaire was designed by the author, and the data collection was done by Korea Research, a reputable professional agency which drew a stratified random sample representative of all foreign wives residing in Korea. Individual samples were selected from fifteen randomly chosen regions throughout the country. After consulting experts at the Asia Pacific Research Center, one of the oldest research centers in Korea, a decision was made to concentrate on survey respondents from China, Vietnam, and Japan. This decision was based on the fact that they constitute the three largest immigrant groups of women involved in interracial marriage in Korea ( A.E. Kim, 2008; Kim & Oh, 2011 ). Other nationalities include those from smaller and less developed countries in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Given their relatively small proportion, a combined percentage of less than 5% according to the latest statistics by the Korean National Statistical Office (KNSO) , the survey was designed to target these three nationalities.


  • Immigration
  • Interracial marriage
  • Social capital
  • Transnational networks


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