Internal migrants and labour market discrimination in Shanghai’s manufacturing sector

Chen, Yu (2008) Internal migrants and labour market discrimination in Shanghai’s manufacturing sector. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information:


China has witnessed the largest migration wave in human history since the initiation of economic reforms in 1978. Millions of migrants seek job opportunities and higher incomes in cities where economy booms. Without local permanent residential status (local hukou), migrants are subject to social and economic constraints. This thesis examines the extent to which migrants are disadvantaged and discriminated in Shanghai’s manufacturing sector. The thesis further explains the underlying reasons for such discrimination.
Fieldwork in Shanghai comprised a random survey in 21 manufacturing companies, interviews with personnel managers and migrant workers. This allows for a full analysis of labour market outcomes for migrants from rural areas (rural migrants), migrants from towns and cities (urban migrants), and local workers. The results show that residential status has significant effects on occupations and wages, after controlling for other factors such as education and work experience. Both rural and urban migrants are disadvantaged in the urban labour market compared with local workers. But rural migrants suffer much more discrimination than urban migrants.
The persistent link between local hukou status and jobs, access to social benefits and services results in continuing discrimination against migrants. Migrants’ positions are further depressed by the huge labour supply, migrants’ lower job expectations, their toleration of discrimination and companies’ violation of labour law. Hence, the thesis argues that the urban labour market in Shanghai’s manufacturing sector has remained divided between migrants and local workers, because barriers still exist preventing migrants from competing fully with local residents.
Lastly, some policy recommendations are made to reduce labour market discrimination for both efficiency and equity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: migration, labour market development, discrimination, China
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Supervisor's Name: Turok, Dr. Ivan and Hoy, Dr. Caroline
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Ms Yu Chen
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-192
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 May 2008
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2020 16:43

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