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China's Labour Market in Transition: Job Creation, Migration and Regulation

  • Richard Herd
  • Vincent Koen
  • Anders Reutersward

Over the past decade, the share of jobs not controlled by the state has increased considerably, whilst employment in agriculture has declined, against the backdrop of ongoing urbanisation. Over 200 million people have been drawn into urban areas through official or unofficial migration, despite various obstacles to labour mobility, including the registration system and the associated restrictions to social service access. New labour laws were introduced in 2008 to better protect employees in a market now dominated by private-sector employers, notably via more systematic use of and adherence to written labour contracts, in particular of indefinite duration ones. To what extent the new legislation and implementing regulations will be enforced remains to be seen. For the time being, de facto employment protection is far less than de jure, with an enduring preponderance of fixed-term contracts, involving few restrictions. Minimum wages are set locally and have not kept up with average wages, nor are they effectively enforced. During the recent slowdown, average wages adjusted rapidly and employment was soon on the rise again. However, this episode also highlighted the need to integrate migrants better, not least by relaxing registration rules. Le marché du travail chinois en transition : création d'emplois, migrations et régulation Au cours des dix dernières années, la proportion d’emplois non contrôlés par l’État a augmenté considérablement, tandis que les possibilités de travail dans le secteur de l’agriculture s’amenuisaient sur fond d’urbanisation ininterrompue. Plus de 200 millions de personnes ont migré – officiellement ou non – vers des zones urbaines, en dépit des nombreux obstacles qui freinent la mobilité de la main-d’oeuvre, notamment le système d’enregistrement et les contraintes qu’il impose en matière d’accès aux services sociaux. Depuis 2008, le marché du travail est soumis à de nouvelles réglementations, visant à assurer aux employés une meilleure protection sur un marché aujourd’hui dominé par les employeurs du secteur privé : on soulignera le recours plus systématique au contrat de travail écrit, et en particulier au contrat de durée indéterminée. On ignore encore dans quelle mesure seront respectées la nouvelle législation et les modalités d’application. Pour l’heure, la protection réelle des employés est très inférieure à ce que prévoit le droit, et les contrats les plus répandus restent les contrats de durée déterminée qui offrent peu de protection. Le montant du salaire minimum est fixé au niveau local, sans référence au salaire moyen, et n’est d’ailleurs pas effectivement respecté. Dans la récente période de ralentissement économique, les salaires moyens ont été ajustés rapidement et l’emploi a connu une embellie. Toutefois, cet épisode a également mis en lumière la nécessité d’une meilleure intégration des migrants, notamment par un assouplissement des modalités d’enregistrement.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 749.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:749-en
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