GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (8): 1877-1890.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020180473

• The Flow in Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial variation of migrant population's return intention and its determinants in China's prefecture and provincial level cities

GU Hengyu1,QIN Xiaoling2,SHEN Tiyan1   

  1. 1. School of Government, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. School of Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
  • Received:2018-05-08 Revised:2019-03-11 Online:2019-08-20 Published:2019-08-30


In China, population migration has an influence on the level of economic and social development in various regions. In 2016, the scale of migrant population reached 245 million, which became an important factor affecting population changes. From the perspective of migrant populations' destinations, with the control of population scale in some big cities in China, and the sustained economic growth in the central and western regions, the problem of population reflux is attracting more and more attention from the society. The spatial differentiation and influencing factors of migrant populations' return intention are vital issues which are urgent to be investigated. Based on data from the 2016 China Migrant Population Dynamic Survey (CMDS), this paper discusses the phenomenon about spatial differentiation of migrant populations' return intention in 279 prefecture and provincial level cities in China, using GIS spatial analysis methods such as Moran's I coefficient, Getis-Ord Gi *. Besides, we investigate the influencing factors of migrant populations' return intention. Study comes to the following conclusions: (1) Compared with the residence intention and hukou transfer intention, the return intention of migrant population in China is lower (6.17%), and the majority of migrants (74.05%) are eager to take their own home towns as refluxing destination. The scale of cities, the level of cities and the return intention of migrant population present an asymmetric "U"-shaped pattern. (2) The spatial distribution of return intention presents an aggregation pattern with marked spatial differentiation. The return intention of migrant population in Yangtze River Delta Urban Agglomeration, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Urban Agglomeration and Zhongyuan Urban Agglomeration is higher than that in Chengdu-Chongqing Urban Agglomeration and Harbin-Changchun Urban Agglomeration. Among the four main geographical divisions, the return intention of urban floating population in the eastern region is the highest while that of the northeast region is the lowest. South China, central-south China and part of East China are hot spots of return intention while Northeast and North China are in a weak corner. (3) The return intention is influenced by both internal factors of migrant population and external factors of in-flow area. Educational level and economic development are both internal and external factors that simultaneously play different roles in return intention. (4) Family connection, social networks, housing and economic factors of migrant population are main forces that shape the spatial pattern of return intention. Family scale in in-flow area and home-ownership rates inhibit return intention while variables such as family scale in non-in-flow area, migrant times and the family's income and expenditure proportion exert a positive influence on return intention. Based on the above conclusions, this paper proposes strategies for relevant departments on the management of migrant population.

Key words: migrant population, return intention, spatial differentiation, influencing factor, cities