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Labor Market Developments in China: A Neoclassical View

  • Ge, Suqin

    ()

    (Virginia Tech)

  • Yang, Dennis T.

    ()

    (University of Virginia)

This paper assesses the applicability of two alternative theories in understanding labor market developments in China: the classical view featuring a Lewis turning point in wage growth versus a neoclassical framework emphasizing rational choices of individuals and equilibrating forces of the market. Empirical evidence based on multiple data sources fails to validate the arrival of the Lewis turning point in China, showing continuous and coordinated wage growth across rural and urban sectors instead. Consistent with the neoclassical view, we find that rural workers expanded off-farm work when mobility restrictions were lifted, interprovincial migration responded to expected earnings and local employment conditions, and returns to education converged gradually to the international standard. These findings suggest major progresses in the integration of labor markets in China.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5377.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: China Economic Review, 2011, 22 (4), 611-625
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5377
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  1. de Brauw, Alan & Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott & Zhang, Linxiu & Zhang, Yigang, 2002. "The Evolution of China's Rural Labor Markets During the Reforms," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 329-353, June.
  2. Maurer-Fazio, Margaret, 1999. "Earnings and education in China's transition to a market economy Survey evidence from 1989 and 1992," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 17-40.
  3. 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.
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