chapter  15
24 Pages

Market Forces and the New Population Mobility in China

WithChristopher J. Smith

This chapter explores the role of migration as an agent of change in contemporary China, focusing on four issues: spatial integration of rural and urban territory; the process of economic development; the phenomenon of cultural change; and the contest for position and power in the city. In an attempt to curb the tidal wave of temporary rural-urban migration, China has kept the basic elements of the household registration system in place. China's economy heated to the boiling point with the introduction of market-oriented reforms, which began to have an effect in the early 1980s. The typical rural-to-urban migrant in a developing country is the single man; in light of China's many urban construction sites, one might assume that to be the case in China as well. To explore some consequences of the new population mobility it is helpful to begin with conceptual model of the migration process. Economic and environmental circumstances are contributors to out-migration even in prosperous coastal provinces.