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The Determinants of Temporary Rural-to-Urban Migration in China


  • Haizheng Li

    (School of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0615, USA,

  • Steven Zahniser

    (Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1800 MStreetNW, RmN5134, Washington, DC20036-5831, USA,


This paper evaluates the impact of various explanatory factors on temporary rural-to-urban migration in China using a series of probit models of the migration decision. The empirical basis of this work is a sample of 11 924 individuals, age 16-35 years, drawn from the 1995 data of the Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP). We find that the profiles for migration-age and migration-education are both quadratic, with the least-educated and most-educated members of rural society being less likely to migrate. In addition, the marginal effect of education tends to be higher for men than for women. An increase in farming income reduces the probability of migration, while the amount of land controlled by a household does not have a significant effect on migration in most provinces.

Suggested Citation

  • Haizheng Li & Steven Zahniser, 2002. "The Determinants of Temporary Rural-to-Urban Migration in China," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 39(12), pages 2219-2235, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:39:y:2002:i:12:p:2219-2235

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    Cited by:

    1. Shuming Bao & Örn B. Bodvarsson & Jack W. Hou & Yaohui Zhao, 2011. "The Regulation Of Migration In A Transition Economy: China'S Hukou System," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(4), pages 564-579, October.
    2. World Bank, 2009. "The Urban Transition in Tanzania," World Bank Other Operational Studies 18604, The World Bank.
    3. Zelai XU & Mary-Françoise RENARD & Nong ZHU, 2007. "Migration, urban population growth and regional disparity in China," Working Papers 200730, CERDI.
    4. Fleisher, Belton & Li, Haizheng & Zhao, Min Qiang, 2010. "Human capital, economic growth, and regional inequality in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 215-231, July.
    5. Ranathunga, Seetha P.B., 2011. "Impact of rural to urban labour migration and the remittances on sending household welfare: a Sri Lankan case study," MPRA Paper 35943, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 14 Dec 2011.
    6. Bodvarsson, Örn B. & Hou, Jack W. & Shen, Kailing, 2014. "Aging and Migration in a Transition Economy: The Case of China," IZA Discussion Papers 8351, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Nong Zhu & Xubei Luo & Heng-fu Zou, 2012. "Migration, Urbanization and City Growth in China," CEMA Working Papers 545, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    8. James Alm & Yongzheng Liu, 2013. "Did China's Tax-for-Fee Reform Improve Farmers' Welfare in Rural Areas?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(4), pages 516-532, April.
    9. James Alm & Yongzheng Liu, 2014. "China's Tax-for-Fee Reform and Village Inequality," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(1), pages 38-64, March.
    10. Fangbin Qiao & Scott Rozelle & Linxiu Zhang & Yi Yao & Jian Zhang, 2015. "Impact of Childcare and Eldercare on Off-farm Activities in Rural China," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 23(2), pages 100-120, March.
    11. Yaojun Zhang & Danlin Yu & Qiao Cen, 2019. "Investigating China's inter-prefecture migration from a place attractivity perspective, its spatial patterns, and demographic characteristics," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 41(34), pages 1007-1020.
    12. Dudley Poston & Li Zhang, 2008. "Ecological Analyses of Permanent and Temporary Migration Streams in China in the 1990s," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 27(6), pages 689-712, December.
    13. Liqiu Zhao & Shouying Liu & Wei Zhang, 2018. "New Trends in Internal Migration in China: Profiles of the New†generation Migrants," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 26(1), pages 18-41, January.
    14. Zhu, Hongfei & He, Lixin & Yuan, Tangjun, 2012. "Could Education Retain Farmers in the Local Area?," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 53(1), pages 39-47, June.
    15. Yang Cheng & Yuxia Lv & Mark Rosenberg & Linke Hou, 2018. "Decision Making of Non-Agricultural Work by Rural Residents in Weifang, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(5), pages 1-1, May.

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