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Labour Market Impact of Large Scale Internal Migration on Chinese Urban 'Native' Workers


  • Meng, Xin

    () (Australian National University)

  • Zhang, Dandan

    () (Peking University)


Hundreds of millions of rural migrants have moved into Chinese cities since the early 1990s contributing greatly to economic growth, yet, they are often blamed for reducing urban 'native' workers’ employment opportunities, suppressing their wages and increasing pressure on infrastructure and other public facilities. This paper examines the causal relationship between rural-urban migration and urban native workers' labour market outcomes in Chinese cities. After controlling for the endogeneity problem our results show that rural migrants in urban China have modest positive or zero effects on the average employment and insignificant impact on earnings of urban workers. When examine the impact on unskilled labours we once again find it to be positive and insignificant. We conjecture that the reason for the lack of adverse effects is due partially to the labour market segregation between the migrants and urban natives, and partially due to the complementarities between the two groups of workers. Further investigation reveals that the increase in migrant inflow is related to the demand expansion and that if the economic growth continues, elimination of labour market segregation may not necessarily lead to an adverse impact of migration on urban native labour market outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Meng, Xin & Zhang, Dandan, 2010. "Labour Market Impact of Large Scale Internal Migration on Chinese Urban 'Native' Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 5288, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5288

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Sylvie Démurger & Shi Li, 2013. "Urbanisation and Migration Externalities in China," Working Papers 1303, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    2. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2012. "Relative concerns of rural-to-urban migrants in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 421-441.
    3. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Démurger, Sylvie & Li, Shi, 2015. "Migration externalities in Chinese cities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 152-167.
    4. Xing, Chunbing & Zhang, Junfu, 2017. "The preference for larger cities in China: Evidence from rural-urban migrants," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 72-90.
    5. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Démurger, Sylvie & Li, Shi, 2015. "Migration externalities in Chinese cities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 152-167.
    6. Adolfo, Cristobal Campoamor, 2014. "The impact of China's hukou restrictions on the aggregate national saving," MPRA Paper 57983, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:eee:chieco:v:46:y:2017:i:c:p:67-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Sylvie Démurger & Shi Li, 2015. "Migration Externalities in China," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/l4oaogsnr9r, Sciences Po.
    9. Liu, Yang, 2013. "Labor market matching and unemployment in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 108-128.
    10. Liu, Yang, 2012. "Does Internal Immigration Always Lead to Urban Unemployment in Emerging Economies? : A Structural Approach Based on Data from China," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 53(1), pages 85-105, June.
    11. Hao, Li & Houser, Daniel & Mao, Lei & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2016. "Migrations, risks, and uncertainty: A field experiment in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 126-140.

    More about this item


    migration; native labour market outcomes; China;

    JEL classification:

    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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