Effect of Hukou Mobility on Depression in Later Life in Urban China

Qian Song , RAND Corporation
James P. Smith, RAND Corporation

We investigate how the hukou system in China creates disparities in psychological well-being among rural-urban migrants. Using China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (2011-2013) and its life history data, we use propensity score analysis to assess the causal relationships. Results show that hukou conversion reduces depressive symptoms, and that such beneficial effects are only prominent in low propensity groups. These effects are mostly driven by women and older group (60+years old) with low propensities of obtaining an urban hukou. For current urban residents, not having an urban hukou mostly hurts the psychological well-being of women and older adults who are already in a socioeconomically disadvantaged position. For inter-county migrants who later obtained an urban hukou, a period of long waiting time may lead to more depressive symptoms. Chronic stress associated with not having an urban hukou in the urban area may have a lasting negative effect

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization