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The Regulation of Migration in a Transition Economy: China’s Hukou System

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Author Info

  • Bao, Shuming

    ()
    (University of Michigan)

  • Bodvarsson, Örn B.

    ()
    (St. Cloud State University)

  • Hou, Jack W.

    ()
    (California State University, Long Beach)

  • Zhao, Yaohui

    ()
    (Peking University)

Abstract

Unlike most countries, China regulates internal migration. Public benefits, access to good quality housing, schools, health care, and attractive employment opportunities are available only to those who have local registration (Hukou). Coincident with the deepening of economic reforms, Hukou has gradually been relaxed since the 1980s, helping to explain an extraordinary surge of migration within China. In this study of interprovincial Chinese migration, we address two questions. First, what is a sensible way of incorporating Hukou into theoretical and empirical models of internal migration? Second, to what extent has Hukou influenced the scale and structure of migration? We incorporate two alternative measures of Hukou into a modified gravity model – the unregistered migrant's: (i) perceived probability of securing Hukou; and (ii) perceived probability of securing employment opportunities available only to those with Hukou. In contrast to previous studies, our model includes a much wider variety of control especially important for the Chinese case. Analyzing the relationship between Hukou and migration using census data for 1985-90, 1995-2000 and 2000-05, we find that migration is very sensitive to Hukou, with the greatest sensitivity occurring during the middle period.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4493.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Contemporary Economic Policy, 2011, 29 (4), 564 - 579
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4493

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Keywords: migrant networks; Hukou; internal migration; reforms;

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Cited by:
  1. Xu, Guo, 2011. "Long-run consequences of natural disasters: Evidence from Tangshan," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 82, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  2. Ying Liang & Yingying Yi & Qiufen Sun, 2014. "The Impact of Migration on Fertility under China’s Underlying Restrictions: A Comparative Study Between Permanent and Temporary Migrants," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 116(1), pages 307-326, March.

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