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The Preference for Larger Cities in China: Evidence from Rural-Urban Migrants

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  • Xing, Chunbing

    () (Beijing Normal University)

  • Zhang, Junfu

    () (Clark University)

Abstract

China has long aimed to restrict population growth in large cities but encourages growth in small and medium-sized cities. At the same time, various government policies favor large cities. We conjecture that larger cities in China have more urban amenities and a better quality of life. We thus predict that a typical rural-urban migrant is willing to give up some income in order to live in a larger city. We present a simple model in which rural-urban migrants choose destination cities to maximize utilities from consumption and urban amenities. Drawing data from a large-scale population survey conducted in 2005, we first estimate each migrant's expected earnings in each possible destination city using a semi-parametric method to correct for potential selection bias. We then estimate the typical migrant's preference for city population size, instrumenting population size with its lagged values to control for potential omitted-variables bias. From these estimation results, we calculate the typical migrant's willingness to pay to live in larger cities. Our results show that indeed rural-urban migrants strongly prefer cities with larger populations. We explore possible explanations for this preference and discuss the implications of these findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Xing, Chunbing & Zhang, Junfu, 2013. "The Preference for Larger Cities in China: Evidence from Rural-Urban Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 7562, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7562
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:5:p:1467-:d:145087 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Yang, Guangliang & Li, Lixing & Fu, Shihe, 2017. "Do Rural Migrants Benefit from Labor Market Agglomeration Economies? Evidence from Chinese Cities," MPRA Paper 80713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Jeffrey Zax, 2016. "Provincial valuations of human capital in urban China, inter-regional inequality and the implicit value of a Guangdong hukou," ERSA conference papers ersa16p693, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    city size; urban amenities; rural-urban migration; hukou system; China;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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