Menu Close

Household Registration, Economic Reform, and Migration


Yang, Xiushi (1993). Household Registration, Economic Reform, and Migration. International Migration Review, 27, 796-818.


Everyone born in China has a household registration which identifies the type of household registration, agricultural or nonagricultural, determined by the household one is born into and the official residence. While determining one's type of residence, household registration also determines one's eligibility and access to government social services and benefits, and influences one's motivation to migrate. The author explores the relationship between type of household registration and the type of and reasons for migration in China. Data are used from the Zhejiang Province segment of the 1986 National Urban Migration Survey. The Zhejiang part of the survey sampled approximately 1400 households with 5229 individuals. Results suggest that agricultural registration is a clear deterrent to permanent migration, but does not influence temporary migration. Permanent migrants with agricultural registration predominantly move for noneconomic reasons, while those with nonagricultural registration are more likely motivated by economic reasons. The pattern is reversed in temporary migration. A key to understanding individual migration behavior is to understand household registration and its function as the intermediary through which the government exercises control over migration. Overall, changing market conditions associated with economic reforms account for these new patterns of spatial mobility.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

International Migration Review


Yang, Xiushi