The global financial crisis and rural-urban migration

Type Journal Article - China: The Next Twenty Years of Reform and Development
Title The global financial crisis and rural-urban migration
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Page numbers 241-265
Since the second half of 2008, the global financial crisis (GFC) reduced export
orders sharply and led to a decline in China’s economic growth. As China’s
exporting industries are labour intensive and most likely to employ rural
migrants, it is widely believed that the global financial crisis has had significant
negative impacts on the employment and/or wages of rural migrants. At the
height of the crisis, laid-off Chinese migrant workers protested outside closed
factories and millions lamented lost jobs and embarked on journeys home much
earlierthan the usual ChineseNewYear visit. Many were apprehensive, worrying
that the worst was yet to come. At that time, policymakers and academics alike
were convinced there would be a significant, adverse labour-market adjustment
for rural migrants (Chen 2009; NBS 2009; Kong et al. 2009). In last year’s China
Update volume, we estimated that the total employment impact of the global
financial crisis was between 13 and 19 per cent. We also emphasised, however,
that the adverse shock to employment was in fact the joint outcome of the
global financial crisis and China’s domestic policy stance—most prominently,
the contractionary macroeconomic policy and the implementation of the New
Labour Contract Law (Kong et al. 2009).

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