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Interprovincial Migration, Population Redistribution, and Regional Development in China: 1990 and 2000 Census Comparisons

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Until recently, migration has had a limited role to play in China's space economy because of central-planning logic and mechanisms. Mobility increases and economic restructuring since the 1980s, however, call for new conceptualizations of migration. Using interprovincial migration data from China's 1990 and 2000 censuses, I analyze migration rates, migration effectiveness, population growth, net migration flows, and spatial focusing of migration. The analysis supports the notions that migration is an increasingly effective factor of population redistribution and that it has a strong relationship with regional development. While these relationships have been documented in many other parts of the world, they have been less well addressed in the case of China. Regional divergence in economic development during the 1990s was accompanied by a marked increase in interprovincial migration and sharply concentrated migration flows, especially from relatively poor central and western provinces to the rapidly growing eastern region. These results suggest that migration theories that draw from experiences of capitalist economies may be of increased relevance to China.

Keywords: China; migration; population redistribution; regional development; transitional economy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California, Los Angeles

Publication date: May 1, 2005


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