Migrants' settlement intentions in host cities in China
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 10:09 authored by Sisi Yang
Patterns of human mobility and settlement are connected to the evolution of a society and the processes of urbanisation and industrialisation. Urbanization, rural-urban migration and settlement are important aspects in China's profound social change and economic reforms in recent decades. Due to its decades-long institutional constraints, the majority of rural-urban migrants prefer temporary migration or circular migration to permanent settlement if the household registration status is concerned. Research on China's internal migration to date have mainly focused on the role of institutional constraints on people's mobility and settlement. This thesis provides a new perspective in understanding migrants' settlement intentions and patterns, which is centred on migrants' settlement strategies in the context of economic transition and hukou reforms. The thesis examines how migrants intend to achieve permanent settlement by bypassing or overcoming hukou constraints. Based on the data from the 'Migrant Survey of Ningbo' conducted in 2014 and the 'Migrant Dynamics Monitoring Survey' conducted in 2013, this thesis found that the economic transition and hukou reforms provided migrants with opportunities to obtain full citizenship that is separated from their hukou status, which broadened the channels of achieving permanent settlement (Chapter 2). Particularly, the marketisation of the urban labour market improved migrants' socio-economic status and granted them with improved employment conditions, and therefore increasing the likelihood of their settling permanently and successfully via obtaining permanent residence, transferring their hukou status or owning local housing at the destination (Chapter 3). In addition, the urban housing market provided migrants with opportunities to achieve permanent settlement without having to transfer their hukou status. A new concept of 'de facto permanent settlement intention' was introduced to understand the diverse channels of permanent settlement based on the relaxed hukou constraints and the rise of urban housing market (Chapter 4). Further, regional differences in hukou premiums affected settlement intentions. Regions with high 'hukou premium' and quality social benefit entitlements were highly attractive to migrants, even though governments at all levels try to encourage migrants to permanently move to small- to -median cities (Chapter 5). The results of this study extend the application of migration theory in a society where profound social changes and rapid economic growth have been taking place in recent decades. The results provide a better understanding of migration and settlement decision making, which could inform policy formulation in the future.