Internal Migration in China: Analysis of Origin-Destination Streams

  • Miao David Chunyu Department of Sociology and Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
  • Ying Liu Population Studies & Training Center, Brown University
  • Zhuping Zhou Population and Development Studies Center, Renmin University
  • Michael J. White Population Studies & Training Center, Brown University
Keywords: internal migration, return migration, China, origin-destination linkage


This study offers a new approach to analyzing the relationship between migration status and individual income. A new dataset from the 2009 Study of China’s Migrant Population allows us to make systematic comparisons among origin-destination pairs. This helps us better understand how migration experience is associated with one’s income in the context of contemporary Chinese geographic mobility and economic development. We confirm that migration is associated with increased income, which can rise further with additional duration at destination. By contrast, once migrants return home, their prior migration experience does not necessarily benefit them in the hometown labor market. We argue that the lack of labor market success for some of the returnees can be attributable to two factors: (1) a mismatch between returnees’ human capital and aspiration and their hometown labor market conditions, and (2) family demand on returnees.


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How to Cite
Chunyu, M. D., Liu, Y., Zhou, Z., & White, M. J. (2016). Internal Migration in China: Analysis of Origin-Destination Streams. Social Science Asia, 2(1), 30-47. Retrieved from
Research Article