Migration and Urbanisation

The Chinese Social Policy Program at SPRC has been actively engaged with the research on migration and urbanisation studies in China and their relevance to other countries. The focus of our research is on social inclusion of rural-urban migrant population voluntary or involuntary and methods to enhance their wellbeing and subjective wellbeing. Our current research projects on migration and urbanisation include governance of migrant concentrated communities in Chinese cities, wellbeing and subjective wellbeing of migrant children, rural-urban linkage, urban and development policies and their impact on migration. Our staff members also start to work on Chinese migrants in Australia. The members of Chinese Social Policy Program carry out research on China, with an aim to obtain insights on cross-cutting issues in other developing countries and developed countries. The team also works on projects internationally. This means that we have the capacity and rich experience to carry out comparative studies.

The experience of China is particular relevant to the world given the scale of the challenges. In some Chinese cities, migrant population can be as much as 1/3 or even ½ of the total population. The problems the societies, including rural and urban, and the governments have to face are challenging. How have they coped so far? Are the current situations sustainable? How to improve the livelihoods of the people affected? How to improve governance to minimise vulnerability? Answers to these questions can be relevant to many parts of the world. Our research outputs have turned out to be of great interests from academic researchers, policy makers, and students from developing countries that try to understand China’s development, and learn from the good practices or the lessons.

Migration studies need expertise from both home and destination. Urbanisation research needs expertise who understands both urban and rural issues. Our experts in Chinese Social Policy Program are from Australia, China and European countries. Their deep understanding of the Chinese political, cultural, social and economic context, policy process and the policy debates and their understanding of the global challenges related to migration put us in a unique position to produce in depth, quality and timely insights on the new issues, existing policies, governance issues, and the changes needed. These insights would not only be relevant to China, but also relevant to the world.

In recent years, migration in China is no longer limited to migrant labour. The governing approach for cities has changed. There are various urban and local development initiatives that are closely linked to migration and urbanisation. There are many new types of migrants and policy initiatives. Some of the initiatives are local, innovative and unconventional. As a result, understanding the relationship between policies at different levels and teasing out the local strategies to cope with the pressure or take advantage of migration for development and how they have contributed or affected individual, household and social wellbeing is very important.

Our past research output on migration or migration being part of the analyses include (field of study showing in the bracket):

1. Overview of social policy related to migration

  • Fisher KR; Shang X; Blaxland M, 2011, 'Review Article: human rights based social policies challenges for China’, Social Policy and Society, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 71 - 77, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1474746410000400.
  • Li, B. (2016)“Making housing affordable in an urbanising China”, Zheng Yongnian, Zhao Litao, and Sarah Y Tong eds, China’s Great Urbanization, Routledge.
  • Li, B. (2014) “Social Pension Unification in China: Paths and Constraints”, Public Administration and Development. Volume 34, Issue 4, pages 281–293, October 2014.
  • Li, B. (2013) Governing urban climate change adaptation in China, Environment & Urbanisation, 5(2) 413-427.
  • Li, B. (2005) Urban Social Change in Transitional China: A perspective of social exclusion and Vulnerability, Journal of Contingencies and Crises Management 13(2): 54-65.
  • Li, B. and Piachaud, D. (2006) Urbanisation and Social Policy in China, Asia-Pacific Development Journal 13(1):1-26.

2. Governance of migration, migrant communities

  • Li, B., Chen C. and Hu, B. (2016) Governing urbanisation and the New Urbanisation Plan in China, Environment & Urbanisation (October, 2016).
  • Li, B. (2014) “The Governance of ‘Problematic Neighbourhoods’ and Their Transitions Overtime” (Chengshi wenti shequ shehui zhili de butong shijiao jiqi bianqian), in Keping Yu, ed., China Governance Review (Zhongguo Zhili Pinglun) (Chinese), Vol. 5. pp109-122.
  • Li B. and Zhang, Y. (2011) Housing provision for rural-urban migrant workers in Chinese cities: the roles of the state, employers and the market, Social Policy & Administration 45 (66): 694-713.

3. Policy evaluation

  • Fisher KR; Shang X, 2016, 'Young people moving from rural foster care to cities in China', in Soldatic K; Johnson K (ed.), Disability and Rurality: Identity, Gender and Belonging, Ashgate, Farnham.
  • Li, B. (2016, forthcoming) “Rural-Urban Integrated development and multiple stakeholder partnership” (Chinese).
  • Li, B. (2016, forthcoming) “Domestic migration and multiple stakeholder partnership in Haicang Fujian” (Chinese).
  • Nordensvard, J., Urban, F. and Li, B. (2015) Chinese overseas hydro-power dams and social sustainability: The Bui dam in Ghana and the Kamchay dam in Cambodia, Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 573–589.
  • Shin, H. B. and Li, B. (2013) “Whose games? The costs of being “Olympic citizens in Beijing”, Environment and Urbanization, 25(2) 559-576.
  • Li, B. and An, X. (2010) Migrants as a source of revenue in small town China, Environment and Urbanisation 22(1): 51-67.
  • Li, B. and Duda, M. (2010).Employers as landlords for rural to urban migrants in Chinese cities, Environment and Urbanisation 22(1): 13-32
  • Li, B., Duda, M and An, X. (2009). [Drivers of Housing Choice Among Rural-to-Urban Migrants: Evidence from Taiyuan, Journal of Asian Public Policy 2(2): 142-156.
  • Li, B. and An, X. (2009). Migration and small towns in China—Power hierarchy and resource allocation, report contract by International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Rural-Urban Working Paper 16, Product Code 10575 IIED, ISBN 978-1-84369-740-4.
  • Duda, M., Li, B. and Peng, H. (2008) Household Strategies and Migrant Housing Quality in Tianjin, in R. Smyth (ed.), Migration and Social Protection in China, World Scientific, 184-204.
  • Li, B. (2008) Why Do Migrant Workers Not Participate in Urban Social Security Schemes? The Case of the Construction and Service Sectors in Tianjin, China, in R. Smyth (ed.), Migration and Social Protection in China, World Scientific, 92-117.
  • Li, B. and Peng, H. (2007) Market Transformation and Labour Protection in the Construction Industry in China-Is there a sequence? POLITIKA (Hong Kong) 31: 75-83.
  • Li, B. (2006) Floating Population or Urban Citizens? Status, Social Provision and Circumstances of Rural-Urban Migrants in China, Social Policy & Administration 40(2): 174-195.

4. Social changes

  • Li, B. and Shin, H.B. (2013) “Intergenerational housing support between retired old parents and their children in urban China”, Urban Studies, 50(16).
  • Kumar, S. and Li, B. (2007) Urban Labour Market Changes and Social Protection for Urban Informal Workers Challenges for China and India in F. Wu (ed.), China’s Emerging Cities: the Making of New Urbanism, London: Routledge, 109-125.
  • Li, B. and Duda, M. (2011) Life considerations and the housing of rural to urban migrants: the case of Taiyuan. In: Carrillo, Beatriz and Duckett, Jane, (eds.) China’s changing welfare mix. Routledge studies on China in transition. Routledge, Oxford, UK, pp. 151-170. ISBN 9780415597319.

5. Media and outreach:

  • Li, B. (2016) “How to avoid radicalisation of migrant children (如何避免移民二代的极端化)” (Chinese), China Thinktank, DRC.
  • Li, B. (2016) China’s hukou reform a small step in the right direction, East Asia Forum, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/01/13/chinas-hukou-reform-a-small-step-in-the-right-direction/
  • Li, B. (2011) Inclusion of rural to urban migrants in China—is removing Hukou the solution?, in How to enhance inclusiveness for international migrants in our cities: Various stakeholders views, jointly published by UNESCO and UN HABITAT.