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BellasChinaMigt - Chris Bellas Econ 508 Prof Fleisher China...

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Chris Bellas 3/10/05 Econ 508 Prof. Fleisher China: Migration and Labor Mobility China has a small urban population and a large labor surplus in rural areas. This is the result of govt. policy that sought to prevent mass urbanization. These policies prevented people from being able to move from low productivity sectors (agriculture) to high productivity sectors, creating a disequilibrium in China’s labor market. Easing migration restricitions and reforms to the Hukou Registration System have allowed people to respond to the large wage gaps between urban and rural and agricultural vs. non-agricultural and pursue higher wage employment. The resulting increase in the marginal productivity of labor has contributed to GDP growth in recent years. The population demographics have also changed with an increase in interprovincial migration. In 1958 there were 20 million people moving to the cities during the Great Leap Forward. In the same year the issued the “’Regulations of Household Registration in the People’s Republic of China’”(Davin, 5) Hukou, the household registration system was established. Each family possessed a registration booklet listing all their family members and classified them as agricultural or non-agricultural (Davin, 5). The hukou also identified people by their location and they were only supposed to work or live in the place where they had their hukou (Davin, 5). Before reforms were made to the hukou system it was very difficult to transfer hukou and migrate. From the system a “spatial
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hierarchy” with the most difficult places to get hukou being in the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, down to medium sized cities and small towns and eventually down to small country towns and villages (Davin, 6). Even today this hierarchy exists with large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai being the most difficult places to get hukou (Fleisher and Yang, 8). However, it before the reform period it was not impossible for people to obtain hukou transfer. “According to official estimates, between 25 and 30 million people obtained hukou transfers in moves from one province to another between 1949 and 1978.”(Davin, 11) This does not include intraprovince migration or illegal or non- hukou migration. (Davin, 11) Reforms to the hukou system have greatly increased the number of sales and transfers of non-agricultural hukou. In 1979, the non-agricultural population was 16.6% of the total population, but in 1995 the non-agricultural population was 23.8% of the total population (Davin, 44). “In 1985, the Ministry of Public Security issued a new regulation on temporary residence certificates for the urban areas. Migrant workers who obtained these were in future to be allowed to live in the urban areas but without enjoying the social benefits to which permanent were entitled.”(Davin, 36) In
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