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The rise of migration and the fall of self employment in rural China's labor market

  • Wang, Xiaobing
  • Huang, Jikun
  • Zhang, Linxiu
  • Rozelle, Scott

When examining questions regarding the Lewis model, one of the most salient set of facts involves the shift of labor between agricultural and the off farm sectors. The goal of this paper is to answer several questions about the nature of this movement: How has the expansion of the economy after 2000 affected off farm labor market participation? Has off farm labor continued to rise? What is this rise being driven by—migrant wage earners or self employment opportunities? What is, in part, driving these trends? Using a national representative set of data that consists of two waves of surveys done in 2000 and 2008 in six provinces, the paper finds that off farm labor market participation has continued to rise steadily in the early 2000s. However, there has been a structural break in the trends of occupational choice before and after 2000. Unlike before 2000, after 2000 migration's growth accelerated; during this same period the self employed subsector stagnated. The number of wage earning migrants in 2008 was greater than the number of those in the self employed subsector. The data also show that the rise in wage-earning migration is mainly being driven by the younger cohorts. Our analysis also shows that the rise of migration is happening in conjunction with a rising unskilled wage.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal China Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 573-584

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Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:573-584
DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2011.07.005
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