Population migration, regional economic growth and income determination: A comparative study of Dongguan and Meizhou, China

Si Ming LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Population migration, regional economic growth and income determination in China are all popular research topics. In a country with a vast geographical extent and varied geographical heritage, and with the hukou or household registration system still playing an important part in structuring a person's life-chances, these three variables are closely inter-twined. The present study attempts to link the three together. It draws on data from a household survey conducted in the cities of Dongguan and Meizhou, both of Guangdong province. The former has experienced highly rapid economic growth since 1978 because of its proximity to Hong Kong, whereas the latter has suffered from its relative geographical remoteness. A series of covariance tests arranged in a hierarchical manner confirms the hypothesis that a given set of income determinants has different effects in different geographical and migratory-status settings. While income generally has a curvilinear relationship with age, this is not the case for the Meizhou permanent migrants. The effect of education on income, after controlling for occupation and other variables, also shows systematic variations with level of economic development. In Meizhou, where the degree of market penetration is low and where formal credentials are of paramount importance, holding a higher education diploma almost guarantees a higher income, ceteris paribus; but in Dongguan education only brings about higher income through its effects on occupation type. The temporary migrants who do not possess permanent residential status constitute an obvious disadvantaged group. For this group, discrimination prevails, regardless of the nature of the work unit's ownership type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1026
Number of pages28
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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