Transformations in China's Internal Labor Migration and Hukou System
45 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2018
Date Written: October 15, 2018
This paper examines China’s changing internal labor migration patterns between 1990 and 2005 as its household registration (hukou) system evolves. We document a drastic increase in the size of the migrant population, along with significant composition shifts in migrants’ characteristics, and geographic and employment distributions. Decomposition analysis shows that changes in individual characteristics can account for little of the increase in migration propensity during this period. By employing a simple migration location choice model, we investigate the relationship between hukou policy and migration behavior. We find that larger and more developed cities are more attractive to migrants but tend to set more stringent hukou restrictions. Rural migrants are significantly more deterred by hukou restrictions relative to urban migrants. These findings suggest that institutional factors, such as the hukou system, are important for understanding the observed patterns in China’s labor migration.
Keywords: Labor Migration, Hukou, China
JEL Classification: J61, R23, O18, P25
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