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Are All Migrants Really Worse Off in Urban Labour Markets? New Empirical Evidence from China

  • Jason Gagnon
  • Theodora Xenogiani
  • Chunbing Xing

The rapid and massive increase of rural-to-urban migration in China has drawn attention to the welfare of migrant workers, particularly to their working conditions and pay. This paper uses data from a random draw of the 2005 Chinese national census survey to investigate discrimination in urban labour markets against rural migrants, by comparing their earnings and the sector (formal vs. informal) they work in with those of urban residents and urban migrants. Exploiting differences in their status in the Chinese residential registration system (hukou) we find no earnings discrimination against rural migrants compared with urban residents, contrary to popular belief. In contrast, it is found that urban migrants in fact gain a large wage premium by migrating. However, both rural and urban migrants are found to be discriminated out of the formal sector, working in informal jobs and lacking adequate social protection. [IZA Discussion Paper No. 6268]. URL:[http://ftp.iza.org/dp6268.pdf]

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Paper provided by eSocialSciences in its series Working Papers with number id:4698.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:4698
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  1. X. Meng & P.W. Miller, 1993. "Occupational Segregation and Its Impact on Gender Wage Discrimination in China's Rural Industrial Sector," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 93-09, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  2. Démurger, Sylvie & Gurgand, Marc & Li, Shi & Yue, Ximing, 2009. "Migrants as second-class workers in urban China? A decomposition analysis," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 610-628, December.
  3. Zhang, Kevin Honglin & Song, Shunfeng, 2003. "Rural-urban migration and urbanization in China: Evidence from time-series and cross-section analyses," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 386-400.
  4. Jason Gagnon & Theodora Xenogiani & Chunbing Xing, 2009. "Are all Migrants Really Worse off in Urban Labour Markets?: New empirical evidence from China," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 278, OECD Publishing.
  5. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  8. WANG Tianhong & Atsushi MARUYAMA & Masao KIKUCHI, 2000. "Rural-Urban Migration And Labor Markets In China: A Case Study In A Northeastern Province," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 38(1), pages 80-104, 03.
  9. Zheren WU, 2008. "Self-selection and Earnings of Migrants: Evidence from Rural China," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 08-25, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
  10. repec:pse:psecon:2008-20 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Zhong Zhao, 2005. "Migration, Labor Market Flexibility, and Wage Determination in China: A Review," Labor and Demography 0507009, EconWPA.
  12. John Whalley & Shunming Zhang, 2004. "Inequality Change in China and (Hukou) Labour Mobility Restrictions," NBER Working Papers 10683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. John Knight & Linda Yueh & Linda Y. Yueh, 2003. "Job Mobility of Residents and Migrants in Urban China," Economics Series Working Papers 163, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  15. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  16. Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2001. "The Two-Tier Labor Market in Urban China: Occupational Segregation and Wage Differentials between Urban Residents and Rural Migrants in Shanghai," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 485-504, September.
  17. Knight, John & Li, Shi, 2005. "Wages, firm profitability and labor market segmentation in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 205-228.
  18. Sylvie Démurger & Marc Gurgand & Li Shi & Yue Ximing, 2008. "Migrants as second-class workers in urban China? A decomposition analysis," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586783, HAL.
  19. John Knight & Linda Yueh, 2004. "Urban Insiders versus Rural Outsiders: Complementarity or Competition in China`s Urban Labour Market?," Economics Series Working Papers 217, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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