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Large City or Small Town: an Empirical Analysis of the Effects of Migration Strategies of Rural Households on Income in China

Abstract

It is widely recognized that migration has a great impact on households’ quality of life, and income is an important indicator for evaluating success of a migration (or mobility) strategy. Using data drawn from a family survey conducted in 2014, this paper analyzes the characteristics of four types of rural households: traditional agricultural family (TAF), mobility in a local small town (MST), semi-migrant family (SMF), and migrant in a large city (MLC). We isolated the impact of geographic and occupational mobility on the income of rural families. Findings reveal that there is a preference among rural households to live and work in a small town and that family income has a strong positive correlation with occupational change and family geographic mobility. The locations of family or work are shown to have important effects on family income, and moving to a much less developed city (small town) may be a way to increase income in an impoverished household.

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Correspondence to Caixian Cui.

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Funding

This research is funded by the National Social Science Fund of China (Award No. 16XRK002) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Award No. 41271155).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Author Note

Jiangsheng Chen received his Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Economics and Management in 2011. He is an associate professor at the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Northwest A&F University in China where he is leading two research programs focusing on Chinese rural–urban migration. His current research interests include environmental economics and rural–urban mobility of rural labor. His address: Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, P.R. China. E-mail: chjshsh@nwsuaf.edu.cn

Caixian Cui received her Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Economics and Management in 2015; she is an associate professor at the College of Humanities at Northwest A&F University where she is leading two research programs focusing on China’s urbanization. Her interests include urbanization and culture in rural China. Her address: Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, P.R. China. E-mail:353667759@qq.com

Paper to be submitted to Applied Research in Quality of Life.

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Chen, J., Cui, C. Large City or Small Town: an Empirical Analysis of the Effects of Migration Strategies of Rural Households on Income in China. Applied Research Quality Life 13, 211–228 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-017-9521-z

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Keywords

  • Urbanization
  • Occupational change
  • Geographic mobility
  • Rural labor force
  • Quality of life
  • China