Category Archives: Migration

Killing Time

Ping Pong

This photo was taken in November 2013 in Nanchuan district, Chongqing. Farmers have been relocated and concentrated in a remote area with little or no public transportation (as of the date when the photo was taken). The concentration of farmers’ homesteads usually takes place in order to optimise the use of arable land as farmers’ homes are scattered throughout the fields and this is an obstacle for the consolidation of arable land now taking place everywhere around the country. Other motivations include the preservation of the threshold of arable land set by the central government by recovering arable land, the improvement of rural infrastructures, and the search of a solution for the problem of the hollow villages (due to the massive migration of young people to the cities, many homesteads remain empty most of the time). A concentration of resources takes place, and farmers are relocated to newly built residential communities (xinxing nongcun shequ – 新型农村社区). Usually, farmers lease the new consolidated land to a cooperative, and some of them continue working the land as employees of the cooperative.

This case is very different. The local government has used the expropriated land in a more lucrative way for its budget, as it has managed to attract private investment (a real estate developer listed in the Hong Kong Stock Market), and develop a tourist town with houses dedicated to the upper-middle class of Chongqing who are in the look for a weekend retreat outside of the metropolitan area. Normally, the law interdicts urban residents to buy rural land but, through the intervention of the visible hand of the government, farmers’ land is expropriated and converted into state land. The miracle is performed. Profits are handsome for the local government, for the real estate developer and, by extension, for all the investors who put their savings into this company, and who will see the dividend payout increase as a result of the difficult-to-match-elsewhere performance of the company. The only ones who won’t make a penny are the original owners of the land.

As a result, the collective economic system is completely wiped out. Farmers will not recuperate their land, except if they buy it at the market price (unattainable after the development of the area). They have a sense of having been cheated. There have been barred from entering the new town, except for the few lucky ones who will be hired by the developer for gardening work. The construction of their new town miles away from the tourist area limits the possibility for entrepreneurism. Youngsters leave their ancestral land to look for a job in the city, and the old ones remain in the new town, which becomes a retirement town. Most of them do not have enough savings for paying the utilities’ bill and need to improvise outdoor kitchens. They live off the remittances from their offspring.

During the Third Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress held in Beijing in November 2013, the government announced plans to implement reforms regarding farmers’ construction land-use rights. The Chinese leadership finally agreed on the need to equate rural construction land use rights with urban construction land rights under the “same land same rights” principle (tongdi tongquan – 同地同权).1 Would farmers agree to sell their homesteads and be grouped in new residential communities given the choice to transfer their land use rights to whomever they wish?

 

  1. Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party to strengthen the important problems posed by the reform (zhonggong zhongyang guanyu quanmian shenhua gaige ruogan zhongda wenti de jueding– 中共中央关于全面深化改革若干重大问题的决定). http://www.hmdjw.gov.cn/article/show-4104.html. Last retrieved December 10, 2013. []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Do negative native – Place stereotypes lead to discriminatory wage penalties in China’s Migrant Labor Markets?

Do negative native – Place stereotypes lead to discriminatory wage penalties in China’s Migrant Labor Markets? Wage penalties in China’s migrant labor markets? IZA Discussion Paper No.8842 February 2015

China’s linguistic and geographic diversity leads many Chinese individuals to identify themselves and others not simply as Chinese, but rather by their native place and provincial origin. Negative personality traits are often attributed to people from specific areas. People from Henan, in particular, appear to be singled out as possessing a host of negative traits.
Such prejudice does not necessarily lead to wage discrimination. Whether or not it does depends on the nature of the local labor markets. This chapter uses data from the 2008 and 2009 migrant surveys of the Rural-Urban Migration in China Project (RUMiC) to explorewhether native-place wage discrimination affects migrant workers in China’s urban labormarkets. We analyze the question of wage discrimination among migrants by estimatingwage equations for men andwomen, controlling for human capital characteristics, province oforigin, and destination city. Of key interest here are the variables representing provinces oforigin. We find no systemic differences by province of origin in the hourly wages of male andfemale migrants. However, in a few specific cases, we find that migrants from a particularprovince earn significantly less than those from local areas. Male migrants from Henan inShanghai are paid much less than their fellow migrants from Anhui. In the Jiangsu cities ofNanjing and  Jiangsu migrants.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Second homes in Hainan (II): social inequalities

The second homes phenomenon not only increases the economic dependency to tourism and real estate sector in Hainan, but also aggravates social inequalities on the island.

In 2013, 40% of all residential real estate transactions were made by non locals. This figure reached 85% in Sanya, the island’s main resort city1. This means that few locals can now afford to buy their home in the southern coast of Hainan. Only wealthy mainlanders can do so.

The Hainanese society has a complex structure, and has long suffered from disparities; second homes may strengthen these inequalities.

Feng Chongyi and David Goodman2 note in the 90’s that the Hainanese society was divided between locals and mainlanders. With Hainan being granted the status of province in 1988, hundred thousand skilled workers flocked from mainland to the island where they were offered high positions in the local administrations and state owned companies.

The development of tourism and second homes in Hainan may deepen these divisions.

According to a study made by Wang, Wei and Li3, Sanya’s population is divided into three main groups that are the local residents (500,000 inhabitants), visitors (100,000) and non local residents  (200 000 inhabitants living in the city several weeks/months per year).

This new population does not only affect real estate prices, but also everyday product prices, this makes locals complain about inflation. The municipal government of Sanya has constantly readjusted the amount of allocation offered to its local residents.Social discontent in Hainan can lead to further tensions between locals and second home owners, and this may make the island’s image less attractive.

Another possible consequence of the second home boom in Hainan is the destruction of local cultural particularisms. With more mainlanders coming to Hainan, the island can lose its “art de vivre”. In the 90’s, one of the consequence of the massive coming of mainlanders to the Hainan was the weakening of Hainanese dialect.

Today, Hainan has for ambition to become a successful tourist destination, but can also do so by offering more than “the sea and sun package”, and so needs to promote its insular culture. And so an equilibirum needs to be found between the settling of second home owners from mainland and the preservation of local culture(s).

 

  1. “85% of Sanya’s residential properties sold to non-islanders”, Hainan government, March 13 2014. Retreived September 20, 2014 from http://en.visithainan.gov.cn/en/lynewsview_2929.htm []
  2. Feng Chongyi and David, S. G. Goodman (1997), “ Hainan: communal politics and the struggle for identity”, in GOODMAN, David S. G. (ed.), China’s provinces in reform : class, community and political culture, London, New York: Routledge []
  3. WANG Fei et al.(2013), “Equalization of public service facilities for tourist cities – case study of Sanya’s downtown public service facilities in the planning process”, ISOCARP []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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Invisible migrant enclaves in Chinese cities

Huang, Youqin, Yi Chengdong. (2014) Invisible migrant enclaves in Chinese cities : Underground living in Beijing, China. Urban Studies. Pre-published online, December 22, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0042098014564535

China is experiencing an urban revolution, powered in part by hundreds of millions of migrant workers. Faced with institutionalised discrimination in the housing system and the lack of housing affordability, migrants have turned to virtually uninhabitable spaces such as basements and civil air defence shelters for housing. With hundreds of thousands of people living in crowded and dark basements, an invisible migrant enclave exists underneath the modern city of Beijing. We argue that in Chinese cities, housing has been adopted as an institution to exclude and marginalise migrants, through: (a) defining migrants as an inferior social class through the Hukou system and denying their rights to entitlements including housing; (b) abnormalising migrants through various derogatory naming and categorisations to legitimise exclusion; and (c) purifying and controlling migrant spaces to achieve exclusion and marginalisation. The forced popularity of basement renting reflects the reality that housing has become an institution of exclusion and marginalisation. It embodies vertical spatial marginalisation, with exacerbated contrasts between basement tenants and urban residents, heightened fear of the ‘other’, even more derogatory naming, and the government’s more aggressive clean-up of their spaces. We call for reforms and policy changes to ensure decent and affordable housing for basement tenants and migrants in general.

Read full text online (restricted access)

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Prof Chan’s proposal on hukou reforms.

Here, at UrbaChina, we have already presented Prof. Kam Wing Chan’s proposals on possible Hukou reforms.

On December 17, the Wall Street Journal1 interviewed Prof Chan (University of Washington) on the reasons why hukou system needs to be liberalized.

the-paulson-institute-logo

 

Prof Chan’s full report on Hukou reforms can be dowloaded at the Paulson Institute.

  1. China’s closed cities threaten population goals, report says. Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from http://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-CJB-25307 []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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Social stress, locality of social ties and mental well-being

Nicole W.T. Cheung (2014) Social stress, locality of social ties and mental well-being: The case of rural migrant adolescents in urban China Department of Sociology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong. Health & Place Volume 27, May 2014, p. 142–154
By comparing rural migrant and urban native adolescents in Guangzhou, the largest city in south China, this study investigated the relationships between social stress, social ties that link migrants to their host cities (local ties) and to their rural home communities (trans-local ties), and the migrants׳ mental well-being. Non-migration social stress was more strongly related to poor psychological health than to weak self-efficacy in both migrant and urban native adolescents. This pattern also applied to the effect of migration-specific assimilation stress on psychological health and self-efficacy in migrants. Social ties directly enhanced these two well-being outcomes in both samples, with the effects of trans-local and local ties proving equally potent among migrants. Trans-local ties were somewhat more useful for migrants in moderating the effects of non-migration social stress and assimilation stress, whereas the stress moderation function of social ties was less pronounced in urban natives. These findings extend the migration, network and social stress literature by identifying how local and trans-local ties protect mental health and mitigate stress in migrants.

Full text

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Interprovincial migration and the stringency of energy policy in China

Xiaohu Luo, Da Zhang, Justin Caron, Xilian Zhang, Valerie J.  Karplus  Interprovincial Migration and the Stringency of Energy Policy in China, Tsinghua-MIT report 270, Novembrer 2014.

Abstract

Interprovincial migration flows involve substantial relocation of people and productive activity, with implications for regional energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. In China, these flows are not explicitly considered when setting energy and environmental targets for provinces, and their potential impact on the effectiveness of policy alternatives is ignored. We analyze how migration affects outcomes under energy intensity targets and energy caps. While both policies are part of the nation’s Twelfth Five Year Plan (2011–2015) and imposed at the provincial level, only the intensity targets are binding at present. We estimate a migration model, integrate it into a general equilibrium model that resolves each province in China, and simulate the effect of migration on energy use and economic activity. We find that although both types of policies are affected by uncertain migration flows, energy intensity targets (energy use indexed to economic output) are more robust than absolute caps. They are also more cost-effective, placing less burden on the relatively clean in-migration provinces. Our findings also underscore the value of moving from provincial targets to an integrated national emissions trading system, given that the choice of abatement strategies will adjust endogenously to labor relocation.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Left-behind children and return decisions of rural migrants in China

Démurger Sylvie, Hui Xu  (2013),  Left-behind children and return decisions of rural migrants in China, with Xu Hui, IZA Discussion Paper No. 7727, November 2013.

IZA Discussion Paper No.7727 November 2013

Abstract

Left-Behind Children and Return Decisions of Rural Migrants in China. This paper examines how left-behind children influence return migration in China. We first present a simple illustrative model based on Dustmann (2003) that incorporates economic and non-conomic motives for migration duration (or intentions to return), among which are parents’ concerns about the well-being of their left-behind children. We then propose two complementary empirical tests based on data we collected from rural households in Wuwei county (Anhui province) in fall 2008. We first use a discrete-time proportional hazard model to estimate the determinants of migration duration for both on-going migrants with an incomplete length of duration and return migrants with a complete length of duration. Second, we apply a binary Probit model to study the return intentions of on-going migrants. Both models yield consistent results regarding the role of left-behind children as a significant motive for return. First, left-behind children are found to draw their parents back to the village, the effect being stronger for pre-school children. Second, sons are found to play a more important role than daughters in reducing migration duration.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Arrival city: how the largest migration in history is reshaping our world

Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World. Book written by Doug Saunders, and published by Knopf Canada (September 21, 2010).

Arrival city

What will be remembered about our century, more than anything except perhaps changes to the climate, is the final shift of human populations from agricultural life to cities, the effects of which are being felt around the world. Arrival City gives us an on-the-ground view of this phenomenon—from Maryland to Shenzhen, from thefavelas of Rio to the shanty towns of Mumbai, from Los Angeles to Nairobi.

Doug Saunders introduces us to the migrants themselves, and with the aid of their stories elucidates their essential part in the economic fabric. He makes clear that the cities and nations that provide citizenship and opportunity to migrants stand to benefit as the migrant class evolves into a middle class, and he explains why those that ignore these people will see increased social unrest, poverty, and religious fundamentalism.

 

 

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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A boy being photographed by his family, and a boy being abandoned by his family

Emperor2

The first photo was taken on 21 November 2014 in Pudong New District, Shanghai. The second was taken in Guangzhou, and was featured in an articled written by Alex Millson, and published by the South China Morning Post on 2 April 2014. They reflect two consequences of the CCP’s policies. The first one might be a result of the One-Child Policy, the second of the absence of a comprehensive social security system. According to the article, the city closed the doors of a “baby hatch” just after two months of its opening due to the overwhelming number of children who were abandoned, all of them ill or disabled.

Captura de pantalla 2014-11-21 a las 10.40.43

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Chinese migrant workers’ attitudes toward risks, strategic uncertainty, and competitivenesss

Li Hao Daniel Houser Lei Mao, Marie Claire Villeval  (2014), A field study of Chinese migrant workers’ attitudes toward risks, strategic uncertainty, and competitiveness,

Using a field experiment in China, we study whether migration status is correlated with attitudes toward risk, ambiguity, and competitiveness. Our subjects include migrants and non-migrants. We find that, migrants exhibit no differences from non-migrants in risk and ambiguity preferences elicited using pairs of lotteries ; however, migrants are significantly more likely to enter competition in the presence of strategic uncertainty when they expect competitive entries from others. Our results suggest that migration may be driven more by a stronger belief in one’s ability to succeed in an uncertain and competitive environment than by risk attitudes under state uncertainty.

Full text on the French multi-discciplinary open access archive HAL

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Neglect of a neighbourhood: oral accounts of life in ‘old Beijing’ since the eve of the People’s Republic

Neglect of a neighbourhood: oral accounts of life in ‘old Beijing’ since the eve of the People’s Republic. Paper written by Harriet Evans (2014), Urban History, Volume 41, Issue04, November 2014 pp 686-704.

ABSTRACT

Oral accounts of life over seven decades in Dashalanr, a popular neighbourhood in central Beijing, reveal a social world that despite being shaped by the state’s policies of social and political classification, housing and employment, has been resistant to complete appropriation by them. Based on research in the neighbourhood since 2005, and drawing on Xuanwu District archives, this article examines local residents’ accounts of long decades of hardship and neglect. With an analytical framework that links gender with temporality, place and space, it suggests ways in which their singular experiences can be read as historical narrative.

Please click here to read the article (access restricted): http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=9357383

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Call for Papers: The Social and Cultural Impact of Migration in China

Session: The Social and Cultural Impact of Migration in China

2015 AAG Annual Meeting

Location

Chicago

Date

21-25 April

Organiser

Youqin Huang (State University of New York, Albany)
Shenjing He (Sun Yat-Sen University, China)

Summary

China is in the midst of an urban revolution, with hundreds of millions of migrants every year. Existing research on migration has mostly focused on migrants themselves and their economic strategies, while their family’s wellbeing, their identity, rights, and citizenship remain under researched. In this session, we hope to join the emerging research shift from focusing on migrants and their economic strategies to the non-economic impact of their migration on people, especially their families (children and parents), and places.

Topics

We welcome papers that address any issues related to the social and cultural impact of migration.
Topics may include but are not limited to:

• Wellbeing of their children
• Wellbeing of their parents
• Wellbeing of migrants
• Rights and citizenship of migrants
• Identity of migrant children
• Identity of migrants
• Household formation and family life
• Cultural impact on the origin and destination

Submission

If you would like to participate in this session, please send an abstract (max. 200 words) and contact details including affiliation and e-mail address to Youqin Huang (yhuang@albany.edu) or Shenjing He (heshenj@mail.sysu.edu.cn) by 15 October 2014. All accepted contributors will then need to register for the AAG conference online at the AAG website by 31 October 2014 ahead of a session proposal deadline of 5 November 2014.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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Transitional Property Rights and Local Developmental History in China

Paper written by Daniel Abramson, Journal of Urban Studies, 48:553, SAGE (2011). DOI: 10.1177/0042098010390237

Abstract

Among the societies that are moving from a centrally planned economy with weak property rights towards a market-oriented economy with stronger and more privatised property rights, China is undergoing an especially rapid and extensive urbanisation that obscures the diversity and relevance of local pre-Reform property arrangements. Official discourse emphasises the formalisation, clarification and, to some extent, the privatisation of property rights in the name of overall societal development and gradual integration with the global economy. In local informal, popular practice and discourse, however, the invocation of property rights reflects the continuing political relevance of both revolutionary and traditional notions of rights to urban space that challenge a unitary, linear view of the development process.

Using the rather unique case of Quanzhou (泉州), in the province of Fujian, the second-largest qiaoxiang (侨乡) province after Guangdong, Abramson shows how property rights in this town have been protected throughout China’s turbulent twentieth century thanks in part to the special status overseas Chinese have enjoyed during this time.

Please click here to read the article (access restricted): http://usj.sagepub.com/content/48/3/553

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Urbachina’s WP5 workshop at LSE

LSE2

Stephan Feuchwang, leader of Urbachina’s work package 5 “Urban development, traditions and modern lifestyles” organised a workshop at the London School of Economics and Political Science on 25 and 26 September. During the workshop, the researchers from this team (Zhang Hui, Luo Pan, Wang Xiaoxia, Jude Howell, Paula Morais, and Renate Krieg) shared their findings for discussion and comparison not only with each other, but also with our two scientific advisers who have vast research experience in urban life and planning in China, Dan Abramson and David Bray, and with a number of others who have conducted research on urban life and governance in China and other parts of the world, including Europe.

The task of this work package on ‘urban development, traditions and modern lifestyles’ has been to investigate how new municipal institutions interact with residents, who bring to their urban relocation ways of organising themselves and improvise new ones. The focal topics were urban government, self-government and social sustainability.

Field research was conducted between March 2012 and April 2014 in the four cities selected by the UrbaChina consortium: the two large cities of Shanghai and Chongqing, and the two medium sized cities of Kunming and Huangshan. It is the most extensive systematic research on urban communities, as well as the most recent to date. One of the main results has been the deconstruction of the very conception of community, as a policy concept and an instrument of governance.

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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