Another Round of Migrants, Please

Published on Author kuveke

We have mentioned both in class and on this blog numerous times one of the major challenges to China is the huge investment in developing cities on the bet that after attracting migrants the real estate values would pay for themselves. As has been seen for the most part this hasn’t worked as planned and many Chinese cities have expanded only to find themselves devoid of the migrants they needed. While there are several reasons why this is the case the Chinese government is attempting to address this problem somewhat. China has just announced a plan to increased the share of China’s population living in cities from 53.7 percent to 60 percent. Since China’s population is roughly 1.4 billion the increase calls for around 90 million more migrants.

In addition to increasing the amount of migrants China will also improve housing for about 100 million people who live in shantytowns. Additionally the latest Five Year plan will give 100 million migrants permanent urban status. While the plan is not large enough in scope to help all the migrants who live and work in cities it is a big step to improving the situation of many migrants.

The plan should be a boon to the cities that have been developing faster than their populations. Additionally the plans to increase railway transportation and improve the conditions migrants face should encourage more migration and fuel faster population growth in said cities. Moving more Chinese to cities has been a policy of China’s for years and the development of domestic demand is seen by many as China’s greatest opportunity for future growth.

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3 Responses to Another Round of Migrants, Please

  1. Paul, Very interesting take on the rate of migration in China. I wonder if you came across any research regarding where China expects to find these migrants. Do they feel by increasing living standards in cities, more migrants will materialize from the country side? While I could understand finding some additional migrants in the traditional areas, I doubt there are 90 million Chinese waiting to migrate. Could China be considering drawing immigrants to fuel the expansion, much like America in the early 1900s?

    • Thomas, I agree that China needs to do more if it wants to see greater migration. Where is the long-needed Hukou reform? Where is the investment in urban education, public transit, and civil infrastructure? This is needed to draw immigrants.

  2. We have an example close at hand of this issue: Buena Vista was built as a steel town, but the timing was just as the switch occurred from charcoal to met(allurgical) coal and no steel mill was built. Some migrants came, but the city remains low in population a century later.
    So … the speculation by local governments will sometimes be prescient, but in other cases a waste. Look for blogs on Ordos, such as here and here.