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Migrants as second-class workers in urban China? A decomposition analysis

  • Sylvie Démurger

    ()

    (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - École Normale Supérieure (ENS) - Lyon - PRES Université de Lyon - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Etienne - Université Claude Bernard - Lyon I (UCBL))

  • Marc Gurgand

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, CREST - Centre de Recherche en Économie et Statistique - INSEE - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris)

  • Li Shi

    (School of Economics and Business - Beijing Normal University)

  • Yue Ximing

    (School of Finance - Renmin University of China)

In urban China, urban resident annual earnings are 1.3 times larger than long term rural migrant earnings as observed in a nationally representative sample in 2002. Using microsimulation, we decompose this difference into four sources, with particular attention to path dependence and statistical distribution of the estimated effects: (1) different allocation to sectors that pay different wages (sectoral effect); (2) hourly wage disparities across the two populations within sectors (wage effect); (3) different working times within sectors (hours effect); (4) different population structures (population effect). Although sector allocation is extremely contrasted, with very few migrants in the public sector and very few urban residents working as self-employed, this has no clear impact on differential earnings. Indeed, the sectoral effect is not robust to the path followed for the decomposition. We show that the migrant population has a comparative advantage in the private sector: increasing its participation into the public sector would not necessarily improve its average earnings. The second main finding is that the population effect is robust and significantly more important than wage or hours effects. This implies that the main source of disparity between the two populations is pre-market (education opportunities) rather than on-market.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00586783.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00586783
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  1. 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.
  2. Loren Brandt & Carsten A. Holz, 2006. "Spatial Price Differences in China: Estimates and Implications," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 43-86.
  3. Zhong Zhao, 2005. "Migration, Labor Market Flexibility, and Wage Determination in China: A Review," Labor and Demography 0507009, EconWPA.
  4. 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.
  5. Simon Appleton & John Knight & Lina Song & Qingjie Xia, 2004. "Contrasting paradigms: segmentation and competitiveness in the formation of the chinese labour market," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(3), pages 185-205.
  6. Liu, Pak-Wai & Zhang, Junsen & Chong, Shu-Chuen, 2004. "Occupational segregation and wage differentials between natives and immigrants: evidence from Hong Kong," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 395-413, February.
  7. John Knight & Lina Song & Jia Huaibin, 1999. "Chinese rural migrants in urban enterprises: Three perspectives," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 73-104.
  8. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
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