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Relative Income Positions and Labor Migration: A Panel Study Based on a Rural Household Survey in China

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  • Zheren WU

    () (Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University)

Abstract

Migration may be used as a strategy to improve a household fs comparative income position in residential areas. Previous studies have found empirical evidence that relative incomes affect emigration decisions. However, no effect is detected for internal migration. In this paper, we reexamine the effect of relative income positions on internal migration behavior. Based on data from a rural household panel survey of the Sichuan and Anhui provinces in China, we find that motives based on relative income play an important role in households f migration decisions. When all else is equal, a household that is poor relative to its home village reference group is more likely to increase migration than is a household in the upper end of the village income distribution. This effect is particularly apparent in households with pioneer migrants. The empirical results also indicate that pioneer migrants may confer a positive externality on potential future migrants. Workers belonging to households with pioneers might be less impeded by migration risks and costs and may be more likely to view migration (an increase in the number of migrants) as an effective strategy for improving their relative economic positions.

Suggested Citation

  • Zheren WU, 2008. "Relative Income Positions and Labor Migration: A Panel Study Based on a Rural Household Survey in China," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 08-24, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
  • Handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:0824
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    File URL: http://www2.econ.osaka-u.ac.jp/library/global/dp/0824.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier B. & Giulietti, Corrado & Robalino, Juan D. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2016. "Remittances and relative concerns in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 191-207.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Migration; Relative income position; Pioneer migrants;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • 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

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