Edited by Beatriz Carrillo, Johanna Hood and Paul Kadetz
Chapter 10: Rural-to-urban migrants: access to welfare services and integration into urban life
In light of the rapid urbanization process and the associated social and welfare reforms in China since the 21st century, this chapter examines rural-to urban migrants’ access to urban social services and integration into various aspects of urban life, based on analysis of the 2011 Migration and Quality of Life Survey data. Results present a mixed picture: in the areas of occupation, industry, health status and receipt of medical treatment, rural-to-urban migrants did not face more discrimination than urban residents; neither did they report higher levels of perceived institutional or interpersonal discrimination. However, they were still excluded from jobs in the State sector, and their identity was closely linked to their rural background. Nonetheless, rural-to-urban migrants did not show a lesser degree of involvement in urban community activities or a greater inclination to move out of their host city than urban residents or urbanized rural residents after socio-demographic characteristics, particularly homeownership, were controlled in the analysis. Given that rural-to-urban migrants represent a significant proportion of the urban population but have not enjoyed the same citizenship rights of urban dwellers, such an investigation provides essential insights for improving the efficacy of social and welfare reforms in China. Particularly, ongoing pro-urbanization policies must be accompanied by measures to grant rural-to-urban migrants equal access to jobs in the State sector; to urban health insurance and medical services; and to stable and affordable housing in the host cities.
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