The effect of the household registration system on the livelihood of migrants in urban China
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. Massive domestic migration in China has attracted public concern for the living status of migrants in urban areas. Migrant workers in China do not have the same legal standing as local residents. Although the abundant and cheap labor provided by migrants has fueled the rapid growth of China's urban economy, migrants remain adrift between rural poverty and the unattainable privileges of urban citizenship (Mackenzie 2002). Using data from nine provinces collected by the China Health and Nutrition Survey, 2006, this paper examines the effect of household registration on labor income differentials between migrants and local residents in urban areas. The findings are ambiguous. Migrants are markedly different; they are less educated and are concentrated in manual and service occupations. However, residence only has a marginally significant income effect. Though migrants are 31 percent more likely to fall below poverty, residency does not explain poverty differentials. The findings suggest hukou reforms have been successful at eliminating the income effects of residency, yet migrants continue to live on the margin. However, a contracting export sector and massive job losses in China threaten the future success of past reforms and increase the likelihood that residency status may restrict the future livelihood of migrants.
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