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The selectivity of internal migration in China

Authors: Xiaxia Yang*, University of Washington
Topics: Migration, China, Population Geography
Keywords: Migration, China, social reproduction, hukou
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual Track 12
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Migration is selective. Unlike other countries, the internal migration of China happens under intensive state interference, with the hukou system at its core. The process singles out the young and healthy to the migration destinations and filters out the old and frail at the migration origins. Through synthesizing three bodies of literature, this research develops a theoretical selective migration model to depict the selective migration process in China. According to the model, the maintenance of migrant labor power is running at its lowest possible costs by extracting the healthy working-age population to the industrial cities, while the renewal of migrant labor power is operating at its lowest costs in the countryside. Spatially, the urban society passes on the costs of labor renewal to the rural society. Administratively, the central state delegates obligations of social reproduction to local governments, yet the local governments try to push the responsibility around. Empirical and textual evidence is provided to back up the selective migration model in two aspects, age and health. The findings confirm that the selectivity level of China's internal migration is extraordinarily strong.

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