Abstracts - Internal migration and wellbeing in China

Session organiser: Dr. Sabu Padmadas, University of Southampton


To disseminate research findings from two inter-related ESRC "Pathfinder Collaborative Analyses of Microdata Resources Programme" projects which focus on migration, gender disadvantage and wellbeing of the left-behind in China and debate the topic on internal migration in China within the population and development context.

This session will include 3 interrelated papers. Each presentation will be 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for open discussion.

Gender inequality in economic outcomes among migrants in Chinese cities: evidence from the 2010 National Migrant Survey
Qin Min, China Population Development Research Centre & James Brown, Statistical Sciences Research Institute, University of Southampton

This paper examines the gender inequality in terms of access to the labour market (actively employed/inactive) and wage differentials among migrants in Chinese cities. According to the 2010 Population Census data, about 220 million Chinese have migrated to work in areas where they do not have formal Hukou registration (National Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Recent trends in rural-urban and urban-urban flows show an emerging pattern of feminisation of migration in China, prompted by the availability of cheap labour and increasing demand for women workforce in service sectors, construction sites, manufacturing industries and household service jobs in big cities. The vast majority of women who migrate from rural areas do not adequate education and skills, and end up in forced labour in big cities. The recent data show that China has now over 50% of people living in urban areas. Understanding the heterogeneity of employment patterns and wages within the migrant communities is therefore crucial for designing welfare measures and policy development. In the past, migration studies in China were mostly based on focused surveys in particular cities. However, the availability of the 2010 National Migrant Survey conducted by the National Population and Family Planning Commission provide unique opportunity to explore data covering a large sample of migrants selected from cities across China. Preliminary analysis shows evidence of lower access to the labour market for married female migrants (although this cannot be attributed to inequality or choice), marginally higher rates of unemployment for those (married) females who are economically active, and a 20% gap in wages for females. However, detailed multilevel analysis demonstrates that this wage gap is a combination of gender inequality in differential access to the labour market as well as differential rewards for females in the labour market.

Email: Dr. Qin Min: qinmin2002@hotmail.com

Linkage between migrant workers and their family left-behind in China: economic or emotional?
Wei Zhong, Wang Zhen et al. Institute of Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences & Maria Evandrou, Centre for Ageing Research, University of Southampton

With the rapid industrialization and urbanization in recent years, rural-urban migrant workers have become one of the most important labour groups in urban China, contributing greatly to economic growth in urban areas. However, this group has not been adequately integrated into the urban mainstream due to the rural-urban dualistic system indicated by Hukou system. As a result, many of the rural-urban labour migrants move without their families, leaving behind their children and older parents in the rural hometown and needing economic and emotional support. The displacement of breadwinners in urban areas leaving behind their children and older persons needing support in rural areas is an important feature of rural-urban migration in China, not systematically explored in research studies. Many migration studies indicate that economic remittances are very important for migrant workers in supporting their relatives left-behind; however the problem of a "care vacuum" and "emotional deficiency" faced by the latter is also of crucial importance to their wellbeing. Against this background, this paper analyses the factors affecting the emotional and economic linkages between migrant workers and their family left-behind in the rural hometown, using data from the Survey of Health and Social Economic Status on Migrant Workers in five Chinese cities in 2006. Selection models and the Hausman test were used to control the probable endogenous heterogeneity of the migrant group. The results indicate that migrant workers have a tighter emotional linkage to their children left behind who are under 14 years old, compared with their emotional linkage to persons above 60 years old left behind, which implies that the "emotional deficiency" for older people left behind may be more serious than for children. The results have important policy implications, and it is recommended that policy instruments should target the emotional needs as well as economic maintenance of older persons left behind.

Email: Dr. Wei Zhong: weizhoung@vip.sina.com

Child development and learning in the context of parental migration: Preliminary findings from the Chinese Family Panel Study.
Lucy Jordan, Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton & Qiang Ren, Peking University

Child development consists of linked domains of sensory motor, cognitive-language, and socio-emotional functions, and is an important predictor of later life course achievements including academic and labour market success. \'Risk\' is cumulative exposure to biological, environmental and psychosocial risks affect development through changes in brain structure and function and behavioural changes in the present and overtime. In recent years increasing attention has been focused on examining the relationship between child development and life course trajectories in low and middle-income countries including the ways in which these relationships are similar or different from higher income countries. This study uses pilot data from the Chinese Family Panel Study (CFPS) that was collected from three provinces in 2008 to examine the relationship between parental labour migration within China and school progression for children aged 6 to 15 (n=556). A series of hierarchical logistic regression models are estimated to determine predictors for on-pace schooling. Accounting for child characteristics (age, gender) and household migration status there is a universal urban advantage with children living in urban households with/out a migrant parent are more likely to be on-pace compared to children living in rural households with both parents. Expected differences for child gender are observed with girls less likely to be on-pace. After accounting for other characteristics, the urban advantage does not remain, with higher levels of maternal education accounting for differences in school progression. Child gender remains a significant predictor with girls almost twice as likely to be behind in their schooling.

Email: Dr. Lucy Jordan: l.p.jordan@soton.ac.uk