The urban labor market status of China’s floating population: a three-group approach

Guo Fei, Zhang Zhanxin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past research on the status of floating population in the urban labor market in China tended to focus on migrants from rural areas to cities.This paper takes consideration of both migrants from rural areas and migrants from other cities and analyzes factors affecting wage income distribution and social insurance participation among three groups of population in urban China,namely rural migrants, urban migrants and urban local workers.The study is based on data from a 2008 survey in four large Chinese cities.The results of this study confirm that if demographic and human capital related factors are controlled there are no significant wage differentials among local urban workers,urban migrants and rural migrants,but the likelihoods of social insurance participation for the three groups with different household registration status are significantly different with the lowest among rural migrants and highest among urban local workers.It implies that wage income has been largely determined by non-institutional labor market mechanisms,but social insurance participation is still associated with one's hukou status,an institutional mechanism that played a determining role of one's life chance and economic wellbeing in the pre-reform China.It confirms that rural/urban divide in the household registration system has become less important than the divide between migrants and local residents in Chinese cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalPopulation research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Rural Migrant Labor
  • Urban Migrant Labor
  • Wage
  • Social Insurance


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