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Migration destinations in the urban hierarchy in China: Evidence from Jiangsu


Population Space and Place

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Over the past quarter century, the mobilization of the human resources stored in China's rural hinterland has propelled the country's economic boom and urban explosion. Whereas the “first‐tier” cities and a couple dozen provincial capitals exert a strong pull on rural citizens, towns and cities in the middle and lower orders of the urban hierarchy also attract tens of millions of rural migrants. The pattern of migration and the settlement intention of the migrants who currently float between the urban and rural realms critically determine where and how China's urbanization is yet to progress. This paper explores the destination choice of rural migrants in the Jiangsu province. A multinomial logit model of intraprovincial migration is estimated, in which rural migrants choose from the 4 tiers in the urban hierarchy: large and extralarge cities, medium‐sized cities, small cities, and townships. Regression results suggest that rural migrants with different backgrounds and origins are attracted to different tiers of urban destinations. Culture, gender, educational attainment, occupation, and rural landholdings together function as a selection mechanism to sort rural migrants into various cities and towns. Other factors such as age, marital status, and income disparities, which typically drive migration, are not influential factors in deciding the destination choice. Among the migrant population, the choices of those who take up jobs (migrant workers) and those who seize business opportunities (migrant entrepreneurs) are dissimilarly affected by their socioeconomic characteristics and rural landholdings.