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Hukou and Consumption Heterogeneity: Migrants' Expenditure Is Depressed by Institutional Constraints in Urban China

  • Binkai Chen
  • Ming Lu
  • Ninghua Zhong

This paper provides a new explanation for China's extremely low consumption-to-GDP ratio, highlighting the constraints of the "household registration system" (Hukou) on China's household consumption. Our baseline results show that the consumption of migrants without an urban Hukou is 30.7% lower than that of urban residents. Moreover, consumption heterogeneity cannot be explained by migration effects, culture, social norms, habits or some other forms of household heterogeneity. Further studies on the composition of household consumption have shown that the gaps are largest in areas such as education and culture, durable goods and health. As both the number and income level of migrants are rising, the constraining effects of Hukou on household consumption will continue to increase.

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Paper provided by Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series with number gd11-221.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hst:ghsdps:gd11-221
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  1. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2009. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," NBER Working Papers 15093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ge, Suqin & Yang, Dennis Tao, 2011. "Labor market developments in China: A neoclassical view," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 611-625.
  3. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, July.
  4. Christopher D Carroll & Byung-Kun Rhee & Changyong Rhee, 1998. "Does Cultural Origin Affect Saving Behaviour? Evidence From Immigrants," Economics Working Paper Archive 401, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  5. Zhang, Xiaobo & Yang, Jin & Wang, Shenglin, 2010. "China has reached the lewis turning point," IFPRI discussion papers 977, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Marcos Chamon & Eswar Prasad, 2008. "Why are Saving Rates of Urban Households in China Rising?," IMF Working Papers 08/145, International Monetary Fund.
  7. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:2:p:425-467 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Farzana Afridi & Sherry Xin Li & Yufei Ren, 2010. "Social Identity and Inequality--The Impact of China’s Hukou System," Working papers 190, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
  9. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:3:p:685-99 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2007. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," NBER Working Papers 13392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Whalley, John & Zhang, Shunming, 2007. "A numerical simulation analysis of (Hukou) labour mobility restrictions in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 392-410, July.
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