The debate on market reforms and social stratification in China has paid very little attention to China’s ethnic minorities. We explored rising occupational stratification by ethnicity in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Analyses of census data from 1982 and 1990 pointed to educational disadvantages faced by ethnic minorities as the most plausible explanation for the change. Multivariate analysis revealed a significant increase in the effect of education on high-status occupational attainment but no change in the effect of ethnicity. Net of education, ethnic differences in high-status occupational attainment were negligible. In contrast, large ethnic differences in manufacturing and agricultural occupations persisted after education and geography were statistically controlled.

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