Migration Under Economic Reform

Thomas R. Gottschang

in Chinese Studies

ISBN: 9780199920082
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Migration Under Economic Reform

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China’s market-based economic reforms that began in December 1978 caused a great increase in migration, both domestic and international. Migration is an integral element of economic growth and development, as labor shifts in response to the creation of new jobs; it has been magnified and complicated in China by the effects of the household registration system, or hukou (戶口), which was introduced during China’s centrally planned years before the reform era. The hukou system effectively prevented most unauthorized migration and resulted in a huge excess in the labor force in rural areas. Because the reform policies brought about rising demand for urban labor, and the growth of the market rendered the hukou less restrictive, waves of migrants moved from the countryside into the cities, a phenomenon that is unparalleled in size and that has continued to the present. At the same time, the policy of opening China to international markets and social and cultural exchanges has brought about new opportunities for young Chinese to seek higher education abroad, while official and private foreign ventures have taken large numbers of Chinese workers to other countries. Immigration into China has also been spurred by economic growth, which has drawn in unprecedented numbers of foreign businesspeople, many of whom have remained for extended periods. Because most migration is caused by changing economic conditions and brings about significant changes in family structure, lifestyle, educational opportunities, health, and culture, it has been the subject of intense scrutiny by scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, geography, and medicine. It has also drawn the attention of scholars specializing in gender studies and human rights.

Article.  10298 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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