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Migration and rural women in China: A look at the gendered impact of large-scale migration


  • Delia Davin

    (Department of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds, UK)


This paper will consider the implications for gender relations, for the family, and particularly for women of the current rural to urban migration in China. As migration never takes a balanced cross section of a sending community, it inevitably alters the age and sex structure of the population left behind. It also creates migrant settlements in the receiving areas dominated by the young and in which the sex balance may be highly unequal. Information on current migratory flows in China indicates that migrants are overwhelmingly young, and that males out-number females. The aggregate data masks striking differences at the micro level. Certain flows, such as those from some Sichuan counties to the new industries of Guangdong Province are dominated by females, in other cases the reverse is true. The implications of migration are many. The sending areas may lose a large number of their young people of one sex or both, but migration may relieve other problems such as surplus agricultural labour. Moreover remittances and returnees with capital to invest may provide some compensation … Strong family networks provide the background support which the migrant needs in undertaking the risky business of migration. Life in the cities is not easy for migrants. Most retain their links with home and return to the villages after a period working in the town. This paper discusses the impact on family and gender relations in the sending areas of this circulation type migration.

Suggested Citation

  • Delia Davin, 1996. "Migration and rural women in China: A look at the gendered impact of large-scale migration," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(5), pages 655-665.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:8:y:1996:i:5:p:655-665
    DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1328(199609)8:5<655::AID-JID409>3.0.CO;2-F

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