Rural–Urban Migration in China and Indonesia
Edited by Xin Meng, Chris Manning, Li Shi and Tadjuddin Nur Effendi
Chapter 2: Why Don’t More Chinese Migrate from the Countryside? Institutional Constraints and the Migration Decision
2 Why Don't More Chinese Migrate from the Countryside? Institutional Constraints and the Migration Decision Leng Lee and Xin Meng 1 INTRODUCTION Over the past 20 years or so, China has enjoyed unprecedented economic growth. Rural-to-urban migration has played an important role in this process. Currently, about 120-150 million rural migrant workers are employed in the cities, and it is widely accepted that an additional 150 million rural residents will join them over the next couple of decades. If China is the world's factory, then migrants have clearly been the factory hands manning the factory floor. As well as dominating manufacturing, migrants are heavily represented in the mining, retail and construction industries. The migration process has not only helped the Chinese economy develop quickly and cheaply, but has also benefited the migrants themselves. Our research indicates that, on average, migrants are able to make more money in the cities than they would be able to in the countryside. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many migrants return to their rural villages after working for a few years in the cities, well set up for the future. Yet despite the scale and evident importance of rural-urban migration, our understanding of the migration process, and of the characteristics of China's 150 million migrants, is limited, primarily due to the lack of quality data. The Rural-Urban Migration in China and Indonesia (RUMiCI) project aims to remedy this. Analysis of the data collected through the first wave of the RUMiCI surveys in 2008 provides an opportunity...
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