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Relative Concerns of Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China

  • Akay, Alpaslan


    (University of Gothenburg)

  • Bargain, Olivier


    (University of Aix-Marseille II)

  • Zimmermann, Klaus F.


    (IZA and University of Bonn)

As their environment changes, migrants constitute an interesting group to study the effect of relative income on subjective well-being. This paper focuses on the huge population of rural-to-urban migrants in China. Using a novel dataset, we find that the well-being of migrants depends on several reference groups: it is negatively affected by the income of other migrants and workers of home regions; in contrast, we identify a positive, 'signal' effect vis-à-vis urban workers: larger urban incomes indicate higher income prospects for the migrants. These effects are particularly strong for migrants who wish to settle permanently, decline with years since migrations and change with other characteristics including work conditions and community ties.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5480.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2012, 81, 421-441
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5480
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