The Regulation of Migration in a Transition Economy: China's Hukou System

16 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2011

See all articles by Shuming Bao

Shuming Bao

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Orn B. Bodvarsson

Saint Cloud State University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jack W Hou

California State University, Long Beach

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University

Date Written: October 2011

Abstract

Unlike most countries, China regulates internal migration. Access to public schools, health services, low‐cost housing, and attractive jobs by those who do not have local registration (Hukou) is often limited. Coincident with the deepening of economic reforms, Hukou has gradually been relaxed since the 1980s, contributing to a migration surge. In this study of interprovincial Chinese migration, we address two questions. First, what is a sensible way of incorporating Hukou into theoretical and empirical models of migration in China? Second, to what extent has Hukou influenced the scale and structure of migration? We incorporate two different measures of Hukou into a modified gravity model nuanced to fit the Chinese case: (1) the migrant's perceived probability of securing Hukou and (2) the perceived joint probability of securing Hukou and a job available only to a registered person. Our tests include a much wider variety of controls especially important for the Chinese case. Using census data for 1985–90, 1995–2000 and 2000–05, we find that migration is very sensitive to Hukou, with the greatest sensitivity occurring during the middle period.

JEL Classification: J61

Suggested Citation

Bao, Shuming and Bodvarsson, Orn B. and Hou, Jack W and Zhao, Yaohui, The Regulation of Migration in a Transition Economy: China's Hukou System (October 2011). Contemporary Economic Policy, Vol. 29, Issue 4, pp. 564-579, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1931325 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7287.2010.00224.x

Shuming Bao (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Orn B. Bodvarsson

Saint Cloud State University ( email )

Saint Cloud, MN 56301
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Jack W Hou

California State University, Long Beach ( email )

1250 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90064
United States

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University ( email )

Department of Economics
Beijing 100871
China

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