How Landholdings Drive Spatial and Social Mobility in China

Authors: Pu Hao*, Hong Kong Baptist University
Topics: Migration, China
Keywords: social mobility, landholdings, migration, rural migrants, China
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 19
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


For many rural households in China, landholdings have changed from being the means of livelihood into being a fixed asset whose value varies according to the type, quantity and location of the land. Though transactions of rural land are prohibited, revenues generated from rural land often instantaneously alter the mobility choices and life outcomes of rural citizens. These new developments are almost completely absent from studies of China’s migration and social changes, where emphasis is on the role of urban employment in driving rural citizens to move across the country and up the social ladder. Based on questionnaire survey and interview data collected in Jiangsu, this paper sheds light on how the countryside are also driving the spatial and social mobility of rural citizens, thereby shaping regional social patterns. Through juxtaposing and relating rural migrants’ resources and life outcomes from both urban and rural angles, the effects of rural landholdings on mobility choices are examined. The possession of rural landholdings is found to be associated with migrants’ destination choice, occupation, housing, and income. Rural land, which has not been seen as a main driver of social mobility, may be sorting rural citizens into different localities and social classes.

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