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Inequality and Equality under a State Socialist Regime: Occupational Mobility in Contemporary China

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionWu, Xiaogang, and Donald Treiman. 2006. "Inequality and Equality under a State Socialist Regime: Occupational Mobility in Contemporary China." PSC Research Report No. 06-598. April 2006.

Using data from a 1996 national probability sample of Chinese men, the effect of family background on occupational mobility in contemporary China is analyzed, with particular attention to the rural-urban institutional divide. China has an unusually high degree of mobility into agriculture and also, apparently, unusual “openness” in the urban population. Both patterns are explained by China’s distinctive population registration system, which simultaneously fails to protect peasants from downward mobility and permits only the best educated rural men to attain urban residential status, resulting in severe sample selection bias in previous studies restricted to the de jure urban population. New light is shed on the relationships between the socialist state and social fluidity and between inequality and mobility.

Country of focus: China.

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