Interprovincial Migration of China’s Floating Population: Individual and Contextual Determinants

Zhou Yu , University of Utah
Jiawei Wu, Nanjing Institute of Geography & Limnology--Chinese Academy of Sciences

China’s floating population, numbering more than 250 million, has greased the wheels of China’s labor market and increasingly come from urban rather than rural sources. Using microdata from the nationally representative China Household Finance Survey (CHFS) and contextual data from China’s decennial census and yearbook, this paper examines the sources of differentials between rural and urban migrants in interprovincial migration during the 2011-2015 period. Three sets of factors are examined: individual human capital, institutional barriers, and contextual factors in the province of residence. Results show that while human capital factors are important sources of the differentials, institutional barriers, including hukou and migration regulations, remain major obstacles to rural migrants. Contextual factors, such as industrial upgrading, environmental quality, and employment opportunities, have differing effects on the interprovincial migration of the two groups. While service industries attract migrants, rural migrants seem less sensitive to air pollution and housing prices than urban migrants.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization