Are All Migrants Really Worse Off in Urban Labour Markets? New Empirical Evidence from China

31 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2012

See all articles by Jason J. Gagnon

Jason J. Gagnon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Theodora Xenogiani

OECD Development Centre

Chunbing Xing

Beijing Normal University (BNU); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

The rapid and massive increase of rural-to-urban migration in China has drawn attention to the welfare of migrant workers, particularly to their working conditions and pay. This paper uses data from a random draw of the 2005 Chinese national census survey to investigate discrimination in urban labour markets against rural migrants, by comparing their earnings and the sector (formal vs. informal) they work in with those of urban residents and urban migrants. Exploiting differences in their status in the Chinese residential registration system (hukou) we find no earnings discrimination against rural migrants compared with urban residents, contrary to popular belief. In contrast, we find that urban migrants in fact gain a large wage premium by migrating. However, both rural and urban migrants are found to be discriminated out of the formal sector, working in informal jobs and lacking adequate social protection.

Keywords: migration, China, discrimination, informal employment

JEL Classification: O15, R23, J24, J71

Suggested Citation

Gagnon, Jason J. and Xenogiani, Theodora and Xing, Chunbing, Are All Migrants Really Worse Off in Urban Labour Markets? New Empirical Evidence from China. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6268. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1981224

Jason J. Gagnon (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Theodora Xenogiani

OECD Development Centre ( email )

2, rue Andre-Pascal
Cedex 16
Paris, 75775
France

Chunbing Xing

Beijing Normal University (BNU) ( email )

19 Xinjiekou Outer St
Haidian District
Beijing, Guangdong 100875
China

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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