Breaking the barriers: How urban housing ownership has changed migrants’ settlement intentions in China

Sisi Yang*, Fei Guo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Since the abolition in China of unequal regulations and controls related to the urban labour market and rural–urban migration in recent years, attention has been paid to migrants’ settlement intentions and their integration into host cities. Settlement channels have become more diverse and more accessible to migrants, because of relaxed institutional constraints and the advanced market mechanism, which are essential to the pace and process of urbanisation, and welfare and service provisions in host cities. Using data from a survey conducted by the Institute of Population and Labor Economic of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Ningbo in 2014, this study examines migrants’ various settlement intention patterns, including traditional permanent settlement intention involving the transfer of one’s household registration (hukou) status; de facto permanent settlement intention through purchasing urban housing; and long-term temporary settlement intention and short-term temporary settlement intention not involving the transfer of one’s hukou. This paper finds that hukou status has a limited impact on permanent settlement intention, and rural migrants tend to achieve permanent settlement through more flexible channels, such as purchasing urban housing in their host cities, thereby avoiding the institutional hurdle of obtaining a local urban hukou. The paper contributes to the study of migration in China by introducing a new concept of settlement intention, de facto permanent settlement intention, which has not yet been investigated empirically in the existing literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3689-3707
Number of pages19
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number16
Early online date14 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • housing
  • internal migration
  • migration
  • settlement
  • urbanisation and developing countries


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