The Rise of Rural-to-Rural Labor Markets in China

Department of Ag. & Resource Econ. Univ. of California, Davis Working Paper No. 00-020

44 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2002

See all articles by Bryan Lohmar

Bryan Lohmar

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Scott Rozelle

University of California, Davis - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Changbao Zhao

Ministry of Agriculture, P.R. China - Research Center for Rural Economy

Date Written: October 2000

Abstract

The continued transfer of agricultural labor into the industrial sector is crucial to China's transformation into an industrial economy. We argue in this paper that rural industry offers an alternative to urban industry for receiving agricultural labor from areas without off-farm employment opportunities. Characteristics of rural industry differ from their urban counterparts. These characteristics may serve to shape the growth in employment for incoming workers in rural areas, provide opportunities for certain types of workers, and affect the impacts these workers have on the local economy. In this paper we examine the features of China's rural-to-rural labor movement and the villages where these workers are employed. Using a nationally representative sample of 215 villages, we show that the growth in rural-to-rural labor movement between 1988 and 1995 has been much faster than in rural-to-urban movement or in local off-farm employment. The rapid growth in rural-to-rural commuting and migration has not negatively affected off-farm income earning opportunities for workers living in the receiving villages. Rural-to-rural labor movement also has many positive effects. Labor movement into rural villages provides opportunities for workers generally underrepresented in other parts of the off-farm labor market, appears to dampen upward pressure on wages that allows rural industry to maintain labor intensive practices, and promotes national economic integration.

Keywords: Rural labor, labor migration, rural industry, gender

JEL Classification: J43, J61

Suggested Citation

Lohmar, Bryan and Rozelle, Scott and Zhao, Changbao, The Rise of Rural-to-Rural Labor Markets in China (October 2000). Department of Ag. & Resource Econ. Univ. of California, Davis Working Paper No. 00-020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=319981 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.319981

Bryan Lohmar

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
202-694-5226 (Phone)

Scott Rozelle (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-9897 (Phone)

Changbao Zhao

Ministry of Agriculture, P.R. China - Research Center for Rural Economy

China

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