Hukou and non-hukou migrations in China: comparisons and contrasts

Type Journal Article - International Journal of Population Geography
Title Hukou and non-hukou migrations in China: comparisons and contrasts
Volume 5
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1999
Page numbers 425-448
This paper uses China's 1990 Census 1%
microdata and studies interprovincial
migration with reference to a core Chinese
socioeconomic institution, the household
registration (hukou) system. We ®rst compared
the socioeconomic characteristics and
geographical patterns of long-distance hukou
and non-hukou migratory ¯ows, and
developed a framework of dual migration
circuits. With this framework, we used a
statistical model to evaluate migration rates in
relation to both origin and destination
variables. It was found that these two types of
migrants shared some general demographic
characteristics, but displayed substantial
socioeconomic differences. Hukou migrants
tended to originate in urban areas, had an
extremely high share of the college-educated
and were employed in more skilled jobs, while
non-hukou migrants were mostly from rural
areas with much lower education attainment.
Hukou labour migrants tended to move
through government and formal channels,
while non-hukou migrants relied on their own,
often informal, sources for jobs. We used a set
of place-to-place migration models to assess
the differential effect of the same variables on
different types of migration. While hukou and
non-hukou migration (including rural labour
migration) were, as expected, deterred by
distance and moved mostly to more
economically developed coastal provinces, the
migration mechanisms and degree of the
impact were not the same. Non-hukou
migration rates were tied positively to the
migration stock, a process consistent with a
networked migration hypothesis, while hukou
migration rates were not. Rural labour
migrants moved away from provinces of high
population pressure to those with more
favourable ratios of land per labourer, in line
with neoclassical predictions. Hukou
migration moved in the opposite direction,
re¯ecting a different set of factors at work. Our
analysis indicates that the hukou system
remained a relatively powerful institution in
structuring migration in the 1980s. The study
also illustrates the usefulness and limitations
of applying existing migration models in a
different sociopolitical context. Copyright #
1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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