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Glass ceiling effect in urban China: Wage inequality of rural-urban migrants during 2002–2007

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  • Qu, Zhaopeng
  • Zhao, Zhong

Abstract

The paper studies the levels and changes in wage inequality among Chinese rural-urban migrants during 2002–2007. Using data from two waves of national household surveys, we find that wage inequality among migrants decreased significantly between 2002 and 2007. Our analysis on the wage distribution further shows that the high-wage migrants experienced slower wage growth than middle- and low-wage migrants—a primary cause of declining inequality of migrants. By using distributional decomposition methods based on quantile regression, we find that an overall between-group effect dominates in the whole wage distribution, which means that the change in returns to the characteristics (education, experience and other employment characteristics) plays a key role, but on the upper tails of the wage distribution, the within group effect (residual effect) dominates, implying that the unobservable factors or institutional barriers do not favor the migrants at the top tail of the wage distribution. We also study wage differential between migrants and urban natives, and find that though the wage gap is narrowed, the gap at the upper wage distribution is becoming bigger. Overall, the results suggest that there exists a strong “glass ceiling” for migrants in the urban labor market.

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  • Qu, Zhaopeng & Zhao, Zhong, 2017. "Glass ceiling effect in urban China: Wage inequality of rural-urban migrants during 2002–2007," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 118-144.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:42:y:2017:i:c:p:118-144
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2016.12.002
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    2. M Niaz Asadullah & Saizi Xiao, 2019. "Labor Market Returns to Education and English Language Skills in the People's Republic of China: An Update," Asian Development Review, MIT Press, vol. 36(1), pages 80-111, March.
    3. Iwasaki, Ichiro & Ma, Xinxin, 2020. "Gender wage gap in China: a large meta-analysis," Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 54, pages 1-17.
    4. Björn Gustafsson & Haiyuan Wan, 2018. "Wage growth and inequality in urban China: 1988-2013," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2018-163, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Yao, Yao & Chen, George S. & Salim, Ruhul & Yu, Xiaojun, 2018. "Schooling returns for migrant workers in China: Estimations from the perspective of the institutional environment in a rural setting," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 240-256.
    6. Guangliang Yang & Lixing Li & Shihe Fu, 2020. "Do rural migrants benefit from labor market agglomeration economies? Evidence from Chinese cities," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 910-931, September.
    7. Jianbo Liu & Xiaodong Zheng & Marie Parker & Xiangming Fang, 2020. "Childhood Left-Behind Experience and Employment Quality of New-Generation Migrants in China," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 39(4), pages 691-718, August.
    8. Iwasaki, Ichiro & Ma, Xinxin, 2020. "Gender Wage Gap in China: A Large Meta-Analysis," CEI Research Paper Series 2020-5, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    9. Haijun Bao & Yan Fang & Qunying Ye & Yi Peng, 2018. "Investigating Social Welfare Change in Urban Village Transformation: A Rural Migrant Perspective," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 139(2), pages 723-743, September.
    10. Björn Gustafsson & Haiyuan Wan, 2018. "Wage growth and inequality in urban China: 1988–2013," WIDER Working Paper Series 163, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rural to urban migrants; Wage inequality; Quantile decomposition; China;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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