chapter  5
18 Pages

Urban–rural divide, socialist institutions, and migration

This chapter outlines how the persistent urban-rural divide has formed historically and then has been reinforced by a set of socialist institutions. Particularly critical is the household registration system (hukou). The chapter also shows how a confluence of rising agricultural productivity and globalizing forces in urban manufactures opened the flood gate of migration in the early 1980s. Since then, migrant workers and entrepreneurs have provided substantial human impetus for the rapid modernization of cities. But most of them continue to face barriers to settle there permanently and exhibit a temporary or circular pattern of mobility. The following questions should help guide the reading and discussion of the materials in this chapter:

• What were the historical roots of China’s urban-rural divide? • What was the trinity of institutions that enforced this divide under state social-

ism (1949-1979)? • How did the Chinese government use hukou to control the distribution of

social welfare and the migration of peasants to cities? • What are the characteristics of a typical migrant worker in urban China today? • In what ways is the access to urban amenities by a migrant worker different

from that by an urban resident? • What are the common patterns of housing and settlement by migrants in Chi-

nese cities? How are they different from and similar to patterns seen in other developing countries?