What is holding farmers back? Endowments and mobility choice of rural citizens in China

Pu Hao*, Shenjing He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


For the roughly 300 million rural migrant workers in China, migrating to urban destinations offers the primary opportunities for poverty alleviation and upward social mobility. However, studies on migration in China, mostly through the lens of the push-pull theory, have left immobile rural residents unexamined. This paper explores how the mobility choices of rural citizens are determined by individual and familial endowments at the sending end, including their physical wellbeing, basic education, family livelihoods and landholdings. Drawing on the China Household Finance Survey data, our analyses suggest that good health, adequate educational attainment and non-local family livelihoods increase the propensities of out-migration while a lack of these endowments likely bars rural citizens from migration. The possession of rural land and other local resources, in contrast, tends to deter migration to urban destinations. The requisition of rural land, however, encourages migration to a local town while deterring longer-distance migration. These findings add to the literature of migration in China by unraveling the sorting mechanism of endowments that shapes the (im)mobility and divergent life outcomes of China's rural population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • (im)mobility
  • China
  • Endowment
  • Migration
  • Non-migration
  • Rural land


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