Kirichenko O. V., Kirakosyan A. A.

Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University


The most populous nation of the world, China experiences the most extensive internal migration today, which is characterized by two important features: first, most migrants leave their farmlands for urban areas and/or for non-agricultural activities; second, such labour flows are basically directed from the interior to coastal areas, and/or from central and western regions to eastern areas. These two features overlap, and are closely interrelated with the macro socio-economic structure. The volume of this kind of migration is estimated of more than 230 millions of people in 2010. The number is expected to be approximately 300 million people by 2025 [1].

Migration in China is highly regulated, and it has been an important part of the national industrialization strategy. People seeking to change residence permanently or formally are required to obtain approval for hukou(system of household registration) change from the local authorities. For urban residents, changing hukou residence within the same city or town (i.e. "moving" thehukou to a new address in the same town) is generally permitted. So are rural residents moving within ruralareas along with their hukou because of marriage or other family reasons. However, formal (or “permanent”) moves – meaning those involving a hukou change – crossing city, town and township boundaries are strictly regulated and require approval by the public security authorities. The approval is granted scarcely and only when there are good reasons for the proposed move, and if the move serves (or at least is not at odds with) the central or local state interests and policies. Generally speaking, it is very difficult for an ordinary person to change hukou from rural to urban areas, or from smaller to larger cities.

The hukou system in the pre-reform era functioned as a de facto internal passport system to prevent rural exodus and an “entitlement” mechanism to limit most state-provided social goods to the urban residents. Today, the system has worked chiefly as an entitlement distribution mechanism rather than to stop migration. Rural migrants are allowed to move to and work in cities (under the "temporary residents" category), but they cannot have a hukou in the destination where they stay. Therefore, these migrants are ineligible for many local benefits and rights,which ordinary local urban residents qualify for automatically.

More generally, two categories of migrants can thus be identified:

a. Migration with "local" residency rights (bendi hukou). This is usually open only to a very select group (currently, the rich or the highly educated), and immediate family members of residents with local hukou;

b. Migration without hukou residency rights (non-hukou migration) [2].

Migrant workers are young, poorly educated, generally healthy, and highly mobile and are therefore heavily represented in manufacturing, construction, and social services industries – short-term employment sectors which account for over 60 percent of rural migrants. But there are some another significant problems that can have influence on migration throughout the country. First of all it is hukou, as we have already mentioned.Another problems faced by rural migrants are: unpaid wages and social security, unfair working conditions and absence of working contracts, gender discrimination, education, public health. As for the education, rural migrant workers must pay a “donation” for their children learning and sometimes these fees are the equivalent of the parent’s salary, so in this case many children can not attend school.

Migrant workers are paid less than their urban countrymen because of the lack of social protection without hukou [3].

  Although internal migration is the main part of development in China it can show that country has many social-economic issues and the main problem is disproportionate development of different regions that stimulate changing places of living. Internal migration in China is highly regulated but, on the other hand, there are many problems which need to be immediately solved.

The list of references:

1. Labour migration [Web resource]. – Access mode: areas-of-work/labour-migration/lang--en/index.htm

2. Kam Wing ChanChina, Internal Migration [Web resource]. – Access mode:

3. Andrew Scheineson China’s Internal Migrants [Web resource]. – Access mode: