Continuity and Change in the Transition from the First to the Second Generation of Migrants in China: Insights from a Survey in Fujian

Yu Zhu, Fujian Normal University and Australian National University
Liyue Lin, Fujian Normal University

Based on a survey in Fujian Province, a major migrants’ destination in China, this paper provides a more accurate and objective picture of the new generation migrants and their differences from and similarities to the first generation migrants. While the paper confirms some common understanding of the differences between the two generations of migrants in terms of their individual characteristics, it demonstrates that the differences between them are often exaggerated by some popular perceptions of their socioeconomic status and their readiness for integration into the destination cities. The paper further demonstrates that the generational change per se plays an insignificant role in determining migrants’ socioeconomic status and rural/urban identity, and that the existence of rural-urban disparity and the dominance of labour-intensive industries in China’s economy are more important factors constraining fundamental changes in migrants’ situation in China. The paper suggests that the above understanding has important policy implications.

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Presented in Session 121: Internal Migration in Developing Countries