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Are All Migrants Really Worse Off in Urban Labour Markets? New Empirical Evidence from China

  • Gagnon, Jason

    ()

    (OECD and Paris School of Economics)

  • Xenogiani, Theodora

    ()

    (OECD)

  • Xing, Chunbing

    ()

    (Beijing Normal University)

The rapid and massive increase of rural-to-urban migration in China has drawn attention to the welfare of migrant workers, particularly to their working conditions and pay. This paper uses data from a random draw of the 2005 Chinese national census survey to investigate discrimination in urban labour markets against rural migrants, by comparing their earnings and the sector (formal vs. informal) they work in with those of urban residents and urban migrants. Exploiting differences in their status in the Chinese residential registration system (hukou) we find no earnings discrimination against rural migrants compared with urban residents, contrary to popular belief. In contrast, we find that urban migrants in fact gain a large wage premium by migrating. However, both rural and urban migrants are found to be discriminated out of the formal sector, working in informal jobs and lacking adequate social protection.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6268.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: IZA Journal of Labor and Development, 2014, 3:17.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6268
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  1. Lin, Justin Y & Wang, Gewei & Zhao, Yaohui, 2004. "Regional Inequality and Labor Transfers in China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 587-603, April.
  2. repec:pse:psecon:2008-20 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Sylvie Démurger & Marc Gurgand & Shi Li & Yue Ximing, 2008. "Migrants as second-class workers in urban China? A decomposition analysis," Post-Print halshs-00269119, HAL.
  4. WANG Tianhong & Atsushi MARUYAMA & Masao KIKUCHI, 2000. "Rural-Urban Migration And Labor Markets In China: A Case Study In A Northeastern Province," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 38(1), pages 80-104, 03.
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  6. Zhang, Kevin Honglin & Song, Shunfeng, 2003. "Rural-urban migration and urbanization in China: Evidence from time-series and cross-section analyses," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 386-400.
  7. Knight, John & Yueh, Linda, 2004. "Job mobility of residents and migrants in urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 637-660, December.
  8. Gagnon, Jason & Xenogiani, Theodora & Xing, Chunbing, 2009. "Are all migrants really worse off in urban labour markets: new empirical evidence from China," MPRA Paper 16109, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. 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.
  10. Meng, Xin & Miller, Paul, 1995. "Occupational Segregation and Its Impact on Gender Wage Discrimination in China's Rural Industrial Sector," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 136-55, January.
  11. 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.
  12. Margaret Maurer-Fazio & Ngan Dinh, 2002. "Differential Rewards to, and Contributions of, Education in Urban China’s Segmented Labor Markets," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 508, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  13. Zhong Zhao, 2005. "Migration, Labor Market Flexibility, and Wage Determination in China: A Review," Labor and Demography 0507009, EconWPA.
  14. John Whalley & Shunming Zhang, 2004. "Inequality Change in China and (Hukou) Labour Mobility Restrictions," NBER Working Papers 10683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  16. Zheren WU, 2008. "Self-selection and Earnings of Migrants: Evidence from Rural China," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 08-25, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
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  18. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters, in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar.
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