Why Do Migrant Households Consume So Little?

Posted: 30 Jun 2017 Last revised: 8 Jun 2018

See all articles by Xiaofen Chen

Xiaofen Chen

Truman State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2018


Exploring data from the migrant and urban household surveys of the Chinese Household Income Project, this paper dissects the underlying causes of the depressing effect of the hukou system on migrant household consumption to two channels. On one hand, migrants’ disentitlement to local urban hukou creates financial insecurity through barriers to employment, social welfare, medical insurance, etc., thereby encouraging precautionary saving. On the other hand, it promotes temporary migration, allows divergence in tastes and values from local urban residents to persist, and incentivizes migrant households to save their transitory income. Factors reflecting these two channels, such as medical and pension insurances, the duration of migration, and local homeownership, are specifically modeled, and they are found to contribute to the discrepancies in consumption between migrant and local urban households, among other factors. In addition, the marginal propensity to consume exhibits heterogeneity across households; it is higher with a longer duration of migration, local homeownership, and self-employment. The lack of these attributes further reinforces the reluctance of migrant households to consume.

Keywords: Consumption, Migrant Household, Marginal Propensity to Consume

Suggested Citation

Chen, Xiaofen, Why Do Migrant Households Consume So Little? (2018). China Economic Review, Vol. 49, No. June, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2995044 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2995044

Xiaofen Chen (Contact Author)

Truman State University - Department of Economics ( email )

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