Astronaut Families

I came across this paper on the concept of “astronaut families” [1]:

…interesting patterns are evolving among wealthy Chinese migrants to North America and Australasia, known as the “astronaut” syndrome and the “parachute kid” syndrome. In the former, a migrant, usually male, will leave his spouse and family at a destination while he returns to Hong Kong or Taiwan to continue his business. In the latter, both parents return to their place of origin after establishing their children with relatives or, if the children are old enough, on their own in their house in North America or Australia. Thus, families are established over long distances, incorporating at least two residences, sometimes more, with one or both parents commuting at regular intervals from one home to the other. The number of people participating in such trans-Pacific networks is not insignificant. Furthermore, the strongly female-biased cohorts in the 35 to 49 year-old age group observed among the Hong Kong-born in cities in Canada, Australia and New Zealand signify large numbers of female-headed “astronaut” households.

Sound familiar? There is this piece from the Globe and Mail from November last year:

A common scenario for an investor immigrant from mainland China unfolds like this, explains immigration lawyer Steven Meurrens: One member of the household qualifies under a category of the Business Immigration Program and posts a $120,000 bond in lieu of making the $400,000 investment stipulated under the program. (Some qualify instead as “provincial nominees,” and follow a somewhat different scenario involving an actual investment.) Portions of the money are divvied out to various immigration advisers and service providers, while the interest accrues to the federal government, which in turn spreads it around to provincial governments—about a half billion dollars annually of late. Essentially, the money is treated as the cost of Canadian entry—although in a further wrinkle, many breadwinners never move to Canada, instead retaining their offshore jobs or businesses as well as Chinese citizenship, to maintain their income stream and taxpayer status in China, which helps shelter income from higher Canadian taxes.

Researching places to live in Vancouver is simple enough: There’s a vast network of expats to survey, and Chinese-based websites discuss favoured neighbourhoods in considerable detail, with special attention paid to schools. Typically, one of the parents, usually the wife, moves to Canada with the children while the husband stays in Asia, coming for visits when he can.

Joanna Waters of SFU wrote a paper on the social and geographic implications of these families [2]. Referencing an article from the Vancouver Sun’s Barbara Yaffe:

The [article] concluded … that: “Most ‘astronaut’ families cheat on their taxes…” In these latter accounts, it was asserted that the (often substantial) world-wide earnings of these households are not being declared to Revenue Canada, at the same time as the benefits of English language training, the children’s education, health care and so on, are enjoyed in the new country. Families who choose the Astronaut arrangement, it is implied, do so strategically, exercising a ‘flexible’ notion of citizenship …, through the active manipulation of Canadian immigration policy.

Barbara Yaffe wrote the article in 1994. Waters wrote her paper in 2001. The term “astronaut” family was coined in the literature in 1994, however I know the term was common parlance within Vancouver’s immigrant Chinese community in the mid-1980s.

This blog has recently had much debate in the comments on the so-called “Hot Asian Money” phenomenon, that is purportedly injecting significant amounts of capital into BC’s housing market, most notably the west side of Vancouver, Richmond, and more recently South Surrey/White Rock. While the magnitude of recent capital injections may be more significant than past waves from Hong Kong and Taiwan in decades’ past, it helps to remember recent complaints surrounding migration policies and their often vitriolic undertones are not anything new to Vancouver.

[1] Skeldon, Ronald, Migration from China Journal of International Affairs, Winter96, Vol. 49 Issue 2, p434 (22p)

[2] Waters, Joanna, Recent Immigration and ‘Astronaut’ Households in Vancouver, British Columbia, Vancouver Centre of Excellence, Research on Immigration and Integration in the Metropolis Working Paper Series, No. 01-02

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Frankly Speaking
Guest
Frankly Speaking
What, no one wants to comment on the astronaut family? Okay, well, this is nothing new. It has been going on for over two decades now, and it seems to git the media whenever there are real estate, crime or education pressures. In the 1990s, it was not just the astronaut family, but it was also the HK latch-key kids. Now that was a great little phenomena – teenagers left to run big houses by themselves with expensive cars and zero parental influence. This of course led to an increase in gang activity, extortion of overseas parents, street racing, and additional pressure on the school system for "extra help" for these kids. Its time Canada pulled the welcome mat from these "immigrants" who simply want passports of convenience and whose supposed "injection of capital" is dwarfed by their cost to… Read more »
reallydumpybear
Guest
reallydumpybear

Now that radiation spread over asia in death cloud most rich asian want to escape to Vancouver to survive. Bad news for bear.

arit
Member

Hello Dear VancouverCondoInfoites!

Anecdotal Updates from Richmond, BC:

1. They closed our favorite restaurant, Kelsey's at Ironwood (yes, yes, we are not food-connosiours-sic). They are opening a bank there.

2. They also closed Sammy J'Peppers! They are opening a Chinese restaurant there.

3. I have been following the demolition of an older 70's house and the construction of a McMansion there instead. This house is on Saunders road.

What amazes me? The three car garage is full, SO they park the silver Ferrari in the front door. Literally back-up the Ferrari until it touches the main entrance, so the rear half of the car is covered by the little roof overhang.

So if they have guests, they can say: Please step over my Ferrari to come in!

Cheers

arit

Troll
Guest
Troll

Yawn, more HAM anecdotes.

space889
Guest
space889
Vancouve luxury market, offshore money, and link to 20 most expensive homes by property assessments: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Vancouver+lu… This astronaut and parachute kid family thing is started by HK migration as this was reported by 6 o'clock evening news back when I was in 2nd year university as a major cause of problems with new highschool immigrant kids getting into trouble with sex, drugs, and alcohol. And yes, a lot of those rich HK and Taiwanese families didn't pay much tax either and more than happy to apply to all social welfare programs. However let me point out that Chinese are hardly among the only people who did this. Witness the angers of the 100K or 300K+ Canadians who live in Lebonon a few years ago when Isreal started bombing the place and roll the tanks in. Who would have thought that… Read more »
VanRant
Member
VanRant

RBC:Our forecast is that the Bank of Canada will restart its tightening campaign in late May 2011 with the overnight rate forecasted to rise to 2.00% by year-end from 1.00% currently.

P.S. Australia's interest rate is 4.75%

Fair Play
Guest
Fair Play
In the 1990s, it was not just the astronaut family, but it was also the HK latch-key kids. Now that was a great little phenomena – teenagers left to run big houses by themselves with expensive cars and zero parental influence. This of course led to an increase in gang activity, extortion of overseas parents, street racing, and additional pressure on the school system for "extra help" for these kids. Its time Canada pulled the welcome mat from these "immigrants" who simply want passports of convenience and whose supposed "injection of capital" is dwarfed by their cost to society. I think Canada also needs to investigate the "investor class" that set up businesses here and then oddly enough the businesses close in four years after the investor has his/her passport. Go shopping at Aberdeen mall in Richmond, and you will… Read more »
SD92129
Guest
SD92129

@arit:

If you can elaborate that into a story with more flow, the Sun may have an opening for you. Kind of like this one which is hot off the press:

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Vancouver+lu

patriotz
Member

@space889:

Vancouve luxury market, offshore money, and link to 20 most expensive homes by property assessments:

But no information from land titles about who actually owns these (or any other) properties, even though it's easily available on-line.

How come? Draw your own conclusions.

Best place on meth
Member
Best place on meth

Write your MP to abolish the immigrant investor program.

44444444444
Guest
44444444444

Alice Zhang, who moved from Hangzhou, China, to Vancouver two years ago, now lives in one of six properties that she and her husband have purchased in Vancouver since moving here.

That doesn't sound at all speculative to me. This will surely end well.

mattymatt
Guest
mattymatt

just an idea… If social media can start revolutions, like the ones in North Africa, why can't it some-how start the crash of the Vancouver real-estate market? any ideas?

Drachen
Member

@reallydumpybear:

"Now that radiation spread over asia in death cloud most rich asian want to escape to Vancouver to survive. Bad news for bear."

The prevailing wind current goes this way dumbass. If they have a large scale meltdown, Chernobyl-style we will share the fallout with Alaska.

bubbly
Member
bubbly

Look at this at vreaa.

The new story promoted by realtors is that 10% of all mainland Chinese millionaires are in the process to immigrate to Canada. How plausible is that?

bubbly
Member
bubbly
chip
Guest
chip

@Drachen:

The Japanese reactors are similar to Chernobyl and Three Mile Island in the same way a Boeing 787 is to the Wright plane. And for what it's worth no one actually died at Three Mile Island and the radiation found in local milk after the accident was less than you would find in a banana.

No one ever cites the 170,000 people who died after the Banqiao hydro electric dam failed as a reason to halt hydro power, or the 100,000 dead in American coal mines in the last century to stop mining.

Perspective helps. The media should get some.

registered
Member
registered

@4 space889 Says: "Witness the angers of the 100K or 300K+ Canadians who live in Lebonon ..Who would have thought that many Canadians expats would choose to live in that small but violatile part of the world?"

I don't get your point. The articles discuss solid evidence of issues in immigration polices that allow some to cheat our social safety net. Are you claiming all those Canadians in Lebanon were leaching off that country's social benefits programs (?!) simply because they lived there? Clue stick: my brother moved to the US in the 80's and pays all the taxes due. See the difference?

VanRant
Member
VanRant

A lot of the recent asian immigrants considered the Canadian passport as an insurance policy and staying in Canada for 3 years to get citizenship as being in prison for 3 years.

Patiently Waiting
Member
Patiently Waiting

HGTV real estate pimp charged with extortion and shoddy reno work:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/03/14/real-esta

Patiently Waiting
Member
Patiently Waiting

Oops, shoddy reno work was simply an accusation not a criminal charge 😛

arit
Member

SD92129

Dear SD,

I am as bear as they come. So bearish, actually, that I don't contemplate buying at least until 2016. Maybe never.

But what does have to do with reporting what I see? Richmond is considered alongside Vancouver as the epicenter of the bubble. I live here and I report what I se ANECDOTALLY. I also like to read anecdotes about other places, for a sense of reality.

Unlike the Vancouver Sun people, I have no 'income' from reporting what I see.

Best regards

arit

Trollette
Guest
Trollette

Here is an interesting paper about Paris (in French…)
http://fr.news.yahoo.com/80/20110314/tbs-la-flamb

Paris is turning into a ghost town because of real estate speculation by foreign buyers. Many buildings sit empty. Most properties bought with a mortgage to avoid paying taxes. Local people are living. Population is decreasing, even if Parisiens have a good fertility rate. Families and seniors cannot afford to live there anymore. Unemployment in Paris is raising, because of the high cost of commercial RE.

wpDiscuz