London, November 16:

Western companies prefer operating in India rather than in China because of Indians’ expertise in the English language and lower wage costs, a leading human resources agency has said.

Wage costs are higher in China than in India, the Mercer Human Resource Consulting concluded in a report based on a study of more than 600 companies in the two countries.

Some senior managers and professionals in China reportedly earn more than double the rates paid to Indian managers.

“Although wage costs are lower in India, there is a high demand for skilled workers there, particularly at the executive level,” said Mark Sullivan, worldwide partner at Mercer, “If demand continues to outweigh supply then we can expect wages to increase substantially over the next few years.” Average pay rates have risen by 11.5 per cent in India in the past five years compared with 7.5 per cent in China.

India had ‘an enviable pool of high quality, talented professionals’ and the largest population of English speakers outside the US, while China had attracted foreign manufacturers with its production facilities and low-cost labour, the agency said.

China was now “acclaimed as the world’s preferred manufacturing hub, companies are increasingly looking to outsource their back-office operations to these countries to reduce overheads”. Annual salaries of Indian project managers averaged $10,039 compared with $23,409 in China. The pay of Chinese financial analysts, at $13,194, also outstripped Indian salaries of $8,408 for the same job.

Living costs in Chinese cities were much higher than in India and “compensation levels of over 100 per cent of Indian pay levels” were abundant in Beijing, “particularly for senior level marketing, IT, human resources and logistics positions”, the study said.

Chinese pay was higher for 95 per cent of the 42 jobs considered in the study.