What keeps China’s floating population from moving?

Pu HAO*, Shuangshuang Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Research on China’s internal migration has mostly focused on moving rather than staying. Urban destinations of migrants are often seen as discrete points of economic opportunity in space, exerting a magnetic force on the rural population from the countryside. But after commencing their urban lives, rural migrants start to perceive their host cities and towns as places that entail value and meaning, which may encourage them to settle. This paper examines how the settlement intentions of rural migrants vary across urban destinations and socioeconomic backgrounds. A questionnaire survey dataset of 10,896 rural migrants in cities of different tiers in Jiangsu Province is used to unravel the factors that predict rural migrants’ settlement intentions. In addition, interviews with rural migrants and their family members are examined to explore the personal experiences and subjective perceptions that may contribute to their inclinations to settle in the city. Results indicate that the factors which encourage rural migrants to settle differ significantly from those which drive them to migrate. Economic and social resources and a resultant sense of (in)security are the prominent factors affecting rural migrants’ intentions to settle in cities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-55
Number of pages26
JournalChinese Journal of Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • floating population
  • migration
  • mobility
  • rural migrants
  • Settlement intentions


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