Internal Migration in China

Over the course of the last two decades or so, a new vocabulary has emerged in China and has gained increasing popularity in academic journals, newspapers, and magazines. This vocabulary describes the phenomenon of the “the floating population” or liudong renkou. This new vocabulary, historically uncommon in conventional demographic literature, reflects fundamental social and demographic changes in Chinese society since the early 1980s, i.e., ever-increasing large numbers of migrants without local household registration status (hukou). This website summarizes a research project, supported by NIH/NICHD, that for the most part deals with this floating population.  The project primarily uses data from China national surveys and censuses to examine causes and consequences of this migration flow, the largest in human history.  As we work on this project, the migration process continues to unfold.  No doubt migration process has made fundamental changes both in migrant origin and destination communities.  Migration has also introduced critical policy challenges: education of migrant children in the destinations and left behind children in migrant-sending communities, protection of labor rights of migrant labor, migration and health, and migration and old age support in rural China.  Migration is part of the larger process of China’s transformation into a modern and industrialized society.