Doug Shultz ‘10: The Changing Landscape of Migrant Labor Markets in China: Differences in Compensation Across Space

Session: The Global Market- MBH 216 at 5:40 p.m. from the Undergraduate Research Spring Symposium
Faculty Sponsor: Anne Knowles, Geography
Major: Geography/Economics

Chinese household registration policy classifies each citizen as either an urban or rural dweller. Based upon factors such as birthplace and parents’ birthplace, this classification can generally be changed only by graduates of higher education, wealthy people, or government employees. As China’s coastal urban economies began to rapidly develop in the late 1970s and 1980s, many rural dwellers migrated to cities in search of higher wages. These migrant laborers were not able to receive the services (e.g., child education, health care, job protection) provided to urban dwellers by local city governments. Over the last decade, however, some migrant laborers began to receive services such as medical insurance, unemployment insurance, or pension funds. This paper uses data from the 2002 Chinese Household Income Project Survey to analyze the economic, social, and spatial attributes of the group of laborers receiving these forms of compensation. Preliminary results show that employers are more likely to offer these types of increased compensation when they are located in more mature job markets where the supply of jobs exceeds demand.

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