Migration and consumption among poor rural households in China

Pu Hao*, Shuangshuang Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Literature in population and development studies has examined the positive effects of rural-urban migration on the livelihoods and living standards of migrant workers. Less attention has been paid to the rural households trapped in poverty despite having family members working in the city. Drawing on a survey of rural households in the north of Jiangsu province, China, this paper examines how migration and an urban income affect the consumption patterns of poor rural households. The results confirm that among the rural poor, households with migrating members tend to have higher disposable incomes than immobile households. However, considerably higher living costs in the city compel these migrant households to be frugal and often split the family between the city and the rural home to minimize total household expenditures. Their incomes are often depleted by the costs of essential goods and services, such as housing, education, medication, transport, and other daily necessities. The findings reflect that many of China's poorest rural households are on the horns of a dilemma—having a job in the city mitigates poverty but often leads to the misery of family separation and the need to endure harsh living conditions for family members in the city. This urges policy changes to facilitate family migration and enhance rural welfare and resource provisions, especially in healthcare and education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number102832
    Number of pages9
    JournalHabitat International
    Early online date6 Jun 2023
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Urban Studies

    User-Defined Keywords

    • China
    • Consumption
    • Expenditure
    • Migration
    • Poverty
    • Social mobility


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