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A comparative analysis of China’s permanent and temporary migration during the reform period

Hong Yang (Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science, Technology, Switzerland)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



Examines China’s population movement since the 1980s. The analysis tackles two types of migration: permanent with corresponding transfers of the household registration, and temporary without such transfers. The study finds that, while the reform has brought about a proliferation of temporary migrants, numbers of permanent migrants have been rather stable. Of temporary migrants, an increasing proportion has been made up by urban residents. Temporary migrants as a whole are more likely to conduct inter‐provincial migration than their permanent counterparts. Coastal provinces and a few northwest provinces have been the favored destinations for temporary migrants. Cities, especially large cities, are preferred by both permanent and temporary migrants. The attraction of towns has been weak and tended to decline. The findings suggest that the reform has not led to a significant change in the formality of permanent migration. The large‐city oriented flow of the overall migration has been contrary to the state urbanization strategy which prioritizes the development of small cities and towns.



Yang, H. (2000), "A comparative analysis of China’s permanent and temporary migration during the reform period", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 173-193.




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