Phantom Services: Deflecting Migrant Workers in China

The China Journal, no. 81 (January 2019): 103-122.

30 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2019

See all articles by Alexsia T. Chan

Alexsia T. Chan

Hamilton College, Department of Government

Kevin J. O'Brien

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 14, 2019

Abstract

As China urbanizes, more migrants need and expect public services. Many municipalities, however, resist and undermine elements of the central government’s urbanization strategy by deflecting demands for benefits instead of accepting or denying them outright. Urban authorities sometimes do so by establishing nearly impossible eligibility requirements or requiring paperwork that outsiders struggle to obtain. At times they also nudge migrants to seek healthcare or education elsewhere by enforcing dormant rules or by shutting down a locally available service provider. Limiting access to public services saves cities a vast amount of money and isolates and disempowers migrants. Phantom services are a consequence of the localization of the household registration system (hukou 户口) and a sign that new axes of inequality and gradations of second-class citizenship have emerged.

Keywords: Migrant Workers, Public Services, Hukou, Urbanization, Citizenship

JEL Classification: H41, H51, H52, H75, I14, I24, J61

Suggested Citation

Chan, Alexsia and O'Brien, Kevin J., Phantom Services: Deflecting Migrant Workers in China (January 14, 2019). The China Journal, no. 81 (January 2019): 103-122., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3316326

Alexsia Chan (Contact Author)

Hamilton College, Department of Government ( email )

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
United States

Kevin J. O'Brien

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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