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

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Listed:
  • Gagnon, Jason

    (OECD and Paris School of Economics)

  • Xenogiani, Theodora

    (OECD)

  • Xing, Chunbing

    (Renmin University of China)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gagnon, Jason & Xenogiani, Theodora & Xing, Chunbing, 2011. "Are All Migrants Really Worse Off in Urban Labour Markets? New Empirical Evidence from China," IZA Discussion Papers 6268, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6268
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2015. "Education expansion and returns to schooling in urban China, 2001–2010: evidence from three waves of the China Urban Labor Survey," Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 178-201, April.
    2. Corrado Giulietti & Guangjie Ning & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2012. "Self-employment of rural-to-urban migrants in China," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 33(1), pages 96-117, March.
    3. Yang Song, 2016. "Hukou-based labour market discrimination and ownership structure in urban China," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 53(8), pages 1657-1673, June.
    4. Danzer, Alexander M. & Dietz, Barbara & Gatskova, Ksenia & Schmillen, Achim, 2014. "Showing off to the new neighbors? Income, socioeconomic status and consumption patterns of internal migrants," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 230-245.
    5. Jisheng Yang & Di Ai, 2019. "Effect of the Big Five Personality Traits on Entrepreneurial Probability: Influence of China’s Household Registration System," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 487-503, December.
    6. Song, Yang, 2014. "What should economists know about the current Chinese hukou system?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 200-212.
    7. Fields, Gary & Song, Yang, 2020. "Modeling migration barriers in a two-sector framework: A welfare analysis of the hukou reform in China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 293-301.
    8. Siddique Abu Bakkar, 2020. "Identity-based Earning Discrimination among Chinese People," IZA Journal of Development and Migration, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 11(1), pages 1-42, January.
    9. Jason Gagnon & Theodora Xenogiani & Chunbing Xing, 2009. "Are all Migrants Really Worse off in Urban Labour Markets?: New empirical evidence from China," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 278, OECD Publishing.
    10. Yuling Cui & Daehoon Nahm & Massimiliano Tani, 2017. "Employment Choice And Ownership Structure In Transitional China," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 62(02), pages 325-344, June.
    11. Cui, Yuling & Nahm, Daehoon & Tani, Massimiliano, 2012. "The Determinants of Rural Migrants' Employment Choice in China: Results from a Joint Estimation," IZA Discussion Papers 6968, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Cui, Yuling & Nahm, Daehoon & Tani, Massimiliano, 2013. "Self-Employment in China: Are Rural Migrant Workers and Urban Residents Alike?," IZA Discussion Papers 7191, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Xiahai Wei & Tony Fang & Yang Jiao & Jiahui Li, 2019. "Language Premium Myth or Fact: Evidence from Migrant Workers of Guangdong, China," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 356-386, September.
    14. Fields, Gary S. & Song, Yang, 2013. "A Theoretical Model of the Chinese Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 7278, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Ariga, Kenn & Ohtake, Fumio & Sasaki, Masaru & Wu, Zheren, 2012. "Wage Growth through Job Hopping in China," IZA Discussion Papers 7104, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Debayan Pakrashi & Paul Frijters, 2017. "Migration and Discrimination in Urban China: A Decomposition Approach," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63(4), pages 821-840, December.
    17. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Returns to Schooling in Urban China, 2001-2010: Evidence from Three Waves of the China Urban Labor Survey," Monash Economics Working Papers 50-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    18. Vahan Sargsyan, 2015. "Differential Treatment in the Chinese Labor Market. Is Hukou Type the Only Problem?," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp548, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    discrimination; China; migration; informal employment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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