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Registration Status, Labor Migration, and Socioeconomic Attainment in China's Segmented Labor Markets

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionWu, Xiaogang. 2005. "Registration Status, Labor Migration, and Socioeconomic Attainment in China's Segmented Labor Markets." PSC Research Report No. 05-579. July 2005.

Since 1955 the Chinese household registration system (hukou) has been used as the main tool to restrict rural-urban migration and allocating socialist benefits to urbanites. During the economic reform, while the system has become less effective, it continues to play a critical role in drawing segment boundary in China’s emerging labor markets. This paper examines the rural-urban labor migration processes and migrants’ socioeconomic achievement in the segmented labor markets. Analyses of data from a national representative survey shows that migrant workers in cities share similar experience with local non-farm workers in rural areas, but differ from urban workers in labor markets. Compared to their peers staying in villages, migrants may be economically better off, yet due to the lack of local urban hukou registration, they are segregated from permanent urban residents and thus far from achieving socioeconomic parity. People of rural origins who have changed hukou status, on the other hand, have been integrated in the urban labor markets. Hukou change makes a great difference in socioeconomic attainment.

Country of focus: China.

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