Migration in China in the 1990s and beyond: definitions and measurements

Kam Wing Chan, University of Washington

The study of migration in China is beset by many problems. Seemingly conflicting observations and questionable interpretations of data drawn from different studies and projects abound. A variety of confusing terminology based on different definitions and methods has been employed in various surveys and studies. To many readers, especially non-China specialists, these conflicting figures and different definitions make it hard for the general migration trend and big picture to come out. This paper tackles the complex issue of measuring of internal migration in China based on a careful distillation of materials and triangulation of data available, including those from regular annual statistics, major surveys, and Census figures at different geographic scales. The paper pieces together various sources to produce a relatively comprehensive picture of migration patterns and trends of present-day China.

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Presented in Session 23: Data and methods in the study of internal migration