Migration, hukou status, and labor-market segmentation: the case of high-tech development in Dalian
This paper examines the relationship between migration and labor-market segmentation in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian. Several authors have stressed the importance of institutional arrangements in shaping the opportunity structures confronting migrants to China’s urban areas. In particular, the ‘insider status’ defined by the differential hukou or household registration status has been implicated in differential access to housing, schooling, health, and other benefits, as well as employment. The examination of the role of the hukou system in shaping employment outcomes in three high-tech industrial sectors of Dalian does not challenge this general finding; however, important variations among the software, biotech, and digital manufacturing industries are found. In these industries, the increasingly decentralized decision making of local economic development policy and shortages of skilled workers are leading to a selective relaxation of the hukou system—at least for some migrants. The implications of these changes for labor-market outcomes and urban development are highlighted.
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