Governance, Environment and Socio-Economic Imperatives
Edited by François Gipouloux
Chapter 6: Snail without a shell: migrant workers’ difficult path towards urban housing
After the implementation of economic reforms and opening-up policies in China, foreign direct investment flowed into the country, resulting in increasing demand for labour. Although the Chinese government eased migration controls, the hukou system was not abolished. The free movement of workers within the country was gradually made possible thanks to the removal of a number of obstacles that had completely prevented intercity mobility until then. Industrialization sparked off massive migration to the cities and gave birth to a new social class, the migrant worker, without whom this industrialization could have never occurred. However, even though China’s urbanization rate increased from 29 per cent in 1995 to 52.57 per cent in 2012, only 35 per cent of the urban population is registered under an urban permanent residence permit or hukou. Rural workers are usually referred to as ‘migrant workers’ (nongmin gong). Urbanization in China has for this reason been termed a ‘ peri-urbanization’ situation.
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