Rural-urban migrants’ social mobility in China’s reform era
Date of Issue2017-05-19
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This thesis aims to explore rural migrants’ social mobility in China’s reform era. Regarding social inequality in China’s market transition, Walder (1996) stresses the changes of fundamental institutions on which the redistributive economy relied heavily and their effects on individual social mobility. As the institutional legacies of the redistributive economy, the household registration (hukou) system and the work unit system are included in our analysis of the influence of the vestige of the redistributive economy on social inequality in economic reform. In this thesis, we compare the structural effects of the hukou system and the work unit system on income, social insurance participation, parental values and children’s educational outcome between rural migrants and urban residents, and examine the manner in which the two systems limit rural migrants’ opportunities to move up the social ladder and impede them from settling down in cities. OLS regression and logistic regression models are used in analyzing data of 2009 Rural-Urban Migration in China survey (RUMiC). The findings reveal the different paths to upward social mobility of rural migrants and urban residents; although employment with privileged work unit sector is an effective means for urban residents to obtain high salaries and key fringe benefits, it fails to provide rural migrants an advantage over employees in the private sector in obtaining high incomes and key benefits. In addition, the hukou system and work unit system render rural migrants’ children disadvantageous by shaping parental values of their parents and influencing their educational performance and achievement. In a nutshell, the effects of the two systems linger in subtler ways on rural migrants’ upward social mobility and have negative implications on their children’s future social mobility.