Migration Paper

– Hard copy due in class Friday 5 March 2014 –

The purpose of this assignment is to get you to read carefully one standard economics paper that includes formal statistical analysis, and then to discuss one or more findings of the paper using examples from Miller’s China’s Urban Billion (and potentially Hessler’s Country Driving). Some of your examples will be consistent with the empirical findings, some not – people do “fail” at migration and return home, but continue to use their migration skills, as for example did Wei Ziqi.

To assist you I provide an extensive bibliography, albeit without annotations, under Paper Resources >> Migration Bibliography. You will however need to use our research tools to go from the paper reference to actually located and download the paper. (I also included citations from reference works if you want get additional background.)

You may organize your paper as you judge best, but I suggest that you begin with the paper you choose, and then complement the statistical analysis with illustrative examples from the case studies provided by Miller. Most empirical papers examine a variety of factors; you probably want to focus on one or two that you believe key. But formal analysis is ultimately a presentation of statistical correlations, and some of the factors are weak. If for example the paper argues factor X makes someone Y% more likely to migrate, well, some still don’t. (Or you may be focusing the links between migration and public health or education or inequality, where again the regression coefficients represent tendencies, not physics-like causes.)

Note that empirical work inevitably draws upon datasets that reflect observed behavior in a specific timeframe and locus. But China’s is not a static society, and there is inevitably a time lag between collecting data, making it available to researchers, and then doing the analysis and writing it up. You should conclude your paper with your judgement on whether behavior is now different, that is, what Miller sees may not be consistent with the behavior measured some years back.

As before, use in-line citations; your paper’s title should be in a bibliography at the end of your essay, not in the prose. Note too that I provide a format for that in my own bibliography. Avoid verbosity; eschew the passive voice. And get a proofreader!

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