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China: internal migration

Migration A–Z

C

  1. Kam Wing Chan

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm124

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Chan, K. W. 2013. China: internal migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

Abstract

The success story of Chinese manufacturing in the last quarter-century is inextricably meshed with the story of migrant workers toiling for subsistence wages to produce goods for export. Indeed, the total stock of rural migrant labor, estimated to be about 155 million in 2010 (Cai et al. 2011: 18), has been the backbone of China's export industry since the mid-1990s. In export centers such as Shenzhen and Dongguan, migrant labor accounted for the great majority (70–80%) of the labor force in the early years of the 21st century (Chan 2007). Rural–urban migration has also played a very important part in China's recent epic urbanization. In the 30 years since 1979 China's urban population has grown by about 440 million to 622 million in 2009 (Chan 2010c). Of the 440 million based on de facto urban population counts, the increase of about 340 million was attributable to net migration and urban reclassification (for estimates of components and definitions, see Chan & Hu 2003; Chan 2007). The latest urban population count, based on the 2010 census, was 666 million in November 2010 (NBS 2011). Even if only half of that increase was due to migration, the volume of rural–urban migration in such a short period is likely the largest in human history. The latest urban population count, based on the 2010 census, was 666 million in November 2010 (NBS 2011).

Keywords:

  • economics;
  • demography and population studies;
  • assimilation and exclusion;
  • labor;
  • labor supply