Where does the Chinese homeless go? Evidence from migration

Authors: Yifang Xu*, Peking University, Yue Gong, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School
Topics: China, Population Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: homeless migrants; population characteristics; provincial distribution; migration pattern
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 19
Presentation File: Download



Homelessness is an emerging urban phenomenon in China. Based on the China Migrants Dynamic Survey (CMDS) launched by the National Health Commission of China covering the 2011-2017 period, this paper discusses the demographic characteristics, spatial distribution, and migration pattern of homeless migrants using ArcGIS and arrives at four results. (1) "Homeless migrants" are without housing in their destinations and can be divided into three categories. Some live in informal residences, some borrow housing from acquaintances and some live in their place of employment. The nature of "homelessness" varies with the change of residence. (2) Compared to homed migrants, the economic status of homeless migrants is generally worse (especially Categories I & II). The three subcategories have significantly different demographic characteristics such as age, gender, education level, and marital status. (3) There are notable differences in the provincial distribution of homeless migrants in terms of their numbers and proportions. Homeless migrants tend to migrate to developed coastal provinces such as Guangdong and Jiangsu. Homeless migrants as a proportion of total migrants is quite large in central and western provinces such as Tibet, Sichuan, and Yunnan. (4) Similar to homed migrants, Categories I & III tend to migrate across provincial boundaries to the major employment centers such as Guangdong, Shanghai, and Jiangsu. Work or business are the most commonly cited reasons for migration while Category II migrants tend to remain within their province of origin and their migration choices are greatly affected by kinship.

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