Accommodating Migrants in the Post-reform Urban China: The Perspective of the Chinese Hukou System

By Junhua Chen and Fei Guo.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

One of the most dramatic social transitions in the post-reform China has been the internal migration (mainly rural to urban) which is by far the most important component of urbanization process in contemporary China. How to accommodate the increasing urban inhabitants is a challenging issue to the Chinese government. From the perspective of the Chinese Hukou system, this paper examines three social groups (local urban residents, permanent migrants and temporary migrants) and their housing choices as well as housing conditions in China’s urban areas. The results of housing policies analysis suggest that the rural-urban temporary migrants without urban household registration have the most limited housing choices to habitat in cities. Moreover, among these limited housing choices, almost none is suitable for most of them due to their poor economic conditions and the bureaucratic identity registration barriers. The double stresses (economic and spirit press) force these temporary migrants to choose to live in the informal rental housing, Chengzhongcun (Villages in Urban areas). In view of Chinese economic development and urban Hukou reform, it is unfair for Chinese government to exploit the rural-urban temporary migrants as the almost infinite supply of cheap labor but ignoring their elementary housing rights. China’s urban government should recognize the housing demand from large amount of the floating population in urban areas and make use of the functions of Chengzhongcun to solve the migrants housing problem at relatively low social cost.

Keywords: Urbanization, Migration, Migrant Housing, Hukou System

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.173-188. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 689.199KB).

Junhua Chen

PhD Candidate, Business Department, The Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

The author is a Ph. D. candidate at Department of Business, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Australia. Prior to Macquarie, he obtained a Master Degree in Demograhic Economics from Peking University in 2007. His current research has focused on urban housing market and policy in China, the process of urbanization in urban China, and internal labour migration in China. His recent paper is “One Decade of Urban Housing Reform in China: Urban Housing Price Dynamics and the Role of Migration and Urbanisation, 1995-2005” by Habitat International. He sincerely thanks for the Macquarie University Research Excellent Scholarship and other supports from his supervisor, Dr. Fei Guo.

Dr. Fei Guo

Senior Lecture, Business Department, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Fei Guo has a Ph. D. degree in Sociology from the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center in 1996. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Demography at the Department of Business, Macquarie University, Australia. Prior to Macquarie, she conducted research at the University of Wollongong, and was an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University. Dr. Fei Guo is a social demographer with research interests in labour migration in China, skilled and business migration in the Asia Pacific, and immigrants’ labour market performance in Australia. She has published a number of papers/books in these areas. Two recent books include: Return Migration in the Asia Pacific (co-edited with R. Iredale and S. Rozario) by Edward Elgar Publishing, U. K. and China’s Minority on the Move (co-eited with R. Iredale and N. Bilik) by M. E. Sharpe. Currently, she is carrying out a research project to study labour migration and urban poverty in China which is funded by the Ford Foundation. She is currently also working on a co-edited book entitled Population in China at the Beginning of the 21st Century, which will be published by the Oxford University Press.

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