chapter  7
22 Pages

Migrant integration in China: evidence from Guangzhou


While migrants have played a crucial role in China’s economic growth since the 1980s (Zhang 2001 ; Fan 2008 ), their reception in urban centres has not been easy. National and municipal governments have reacted to migration with repeated regulatory strategies (Zhang 2001 ). Local residents and the media perceive migrants negatively: allegedly, they overload urban infrastructures, engage in criminal activities, and violate birth control regulations (Solinger 1995 ; Zhang 2002 ; Fan 2008 ). In this hostile atmosphere, the general response to migration has been separation: institutionally, socially and spatially. The continuation of the hukou system, with its negative consequences for migrant urban life, forms just one case in point. This system might fi t the offi cial rhetoric of a temporary ‘fl oating population’. But while many migrants have returned to their home towns and more will follow, others seem to have longer-term ambitions (Liu et al . 2012 ). Meanwhile, institutional and other barriers seriously hinder their integration. With huge numbers of migrants, limited integration in the long run can threaten social stability.