Internal migrants and their left-behind families in China

Authored by: Cheng Zeng

The Routledge Companion to Migration, Communication, and Politics

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138058149
eBook ISBN: 9781315164472
Adobe ISBN:


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Massive rural–urban migration throughout developing countries has been witnessed over the last two decades as a result of globalization. Rural migration in China has a profound impact on the demographics and way of life in both receiving and sending areas. Migrant workers are needed for economic growth, but they are not welcomed by the locals and are generally living marginalized lives in host cities. This is particularly true in China, where the largest labor migration in human history has taken place: 270 million rural citizens have moved to urban cities for a better future. In addition to everyday discrimination, rural migrants experience institutional discrimination based on the household registration system (hukou) in China. Women, children, and the elderly are often left behind in rural areas due to the low job security and high living costs in urban cities. The left-behind population often faces various financial, physical, and emotional challenges in under-developed rural areas. This chapter adds to the migrant literature by reviewing previous research on domestic migrants and their left-behind families in China.

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