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Relative Income Positions and Labor Migration: A Panel Study Based on a Rural Household Survey in China

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  • Zheren WU

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    (Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University)

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    Abstract

    Migration may be used as a strategy to improve a householdfs comparative income position in residential areas. Previous studies have found empirical evidence that relative incomes affect emigration decisions. However, no effect is detected for internal migration. In this paper, we reexamine the effect of relative income positions on internal migration behavior. Based on data from a rural household panel survey of the Sichuan and Anhui provinces in China, we find that motives based on relative income play an important role in householdsf migration decisions. When all else is equal, a household that is poor relative to its home village reference group is more likely to increase migration than is a household in the upper end of the village income distribution. This effect is particularly apparent in households with pioneer migrants. The empirical results also indicate that pioneer migrants may confer a positive externality on potential future migrants. Workers belonging to households with pioneers might be less impeded by migration risks and costs and may be more likely to view migration (an increase in the number of migrants) as an effective strategy for improving their relative economic positions.

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    File URL: http://www2.econ.osaka-u.ac.jp/library/global/dp/0824.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP) in its series Discussion Papers in Economics and Business with number 08-24.

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    Length: 22 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:0824

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    Keywords: Migration; Relative income position; Pioneer migrants;

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