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Migration, Self-selection, and Income Distributions: Evidence from Rural and Urban China


  • Xing, Chunbing


As massive rural residents leave their home countryside for better employment, migration has profound effects on income distributions such as rural-urban income gap and inequalities within rural or urban areas. The nature of the effects depend crucially on who are migrating and their migrating patterns. In this paper, we emphasize two facts. First, rural residents are not homogeneous, they self-select to migrate or not. Second, there are significant differences between migrants who successfully transformed their hukou status (permanent migrants) and those did not (temporary migrants). Using three coordinated CHIP data sets in 2002, we find that permanent migrants are positively selected from rural population especially in terms of education. As permanent migration takes more mass from the upper half of rural income density, both rural income level and inequalities decrease, the urban-rural income ratio increases at the same time. On the contrary, the selection effect of temporary migrants is almost negligible. It does not have obvious effect on rural income level and inequalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Xing, Chunbing, 2009. "Migration, Self-selection, and Income Distributions: Evidence from Rural and Urban China," MPRA Paper 17036, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17036

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Biavaschi, Costanza & Elsner, Benjamin, 2013. "Let's Be Selective about Migrant Self-Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 7865, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. John Whalley & Chunbing Xing, 2010. "The Regional Distribution of Skill Premia in Urban China," NBER Working Papers 16575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Li, Shi & Xing, Chunbing, 2010. "China's Higher Education Expansion and its Labor Market Consequences," IZA Discussion Papers 4974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Liu, Yang, 2012. "Does Internal Immigration Always Lead to Urban Unemployment in Emerging Economies? : A Structural Approach Based on Data from China," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 53(1), pages 85-105, June.
    5. Li, Shi & Whalley, John & Xing, Chunbing, 2014. "China's higher education expansion and unemployment of college graduates," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 567-582.
    6. Lin Xiu & Morley Gunderson, 2013. "Credential Effects and the Returns to Education in China," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 27(2), pages 225-248, June.
    7. 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.

    More about this item


    migration; self-selection; China;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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