GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (12): 2369-2382.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201712008

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The determinants for peasants' migration intentions of moving to cities in China: An analysis based on the CGSS 2010

Chuankai YANG1(), Ye LIU2, Wei XU3,4, Yuemin NING3   

  1. 1. Institute of Urban and Demographic Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai 200020, China
    2. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    3. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    4. Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge T1K3M4, Canada
  • Received:2017-06-20 Revised:2017-09-11 Online:2017-12-15 Published:2018-01-18


China has experienced the unprecedented surge of rural-urban migration since the mid-1980s, which has led to rapid urban population growth. With the development of human-oriented new urbanization, the individual migration intentions attracted more attentions from scholars and governments in recent years. However, previous studies mainly examined the factors underpinning the peasant workers' intentions of settling down in various cities or returning rural hometowns, devoting insufficient attention to the peasants' migration intentions of leaving the countryside and moving to cities to settle down permanently. Based on the data of Chinese General Social Survey in 2010 (CGSS2010), the paper described the migration intentions of 4116 rural residents and then explained their migration intentions from three levels of individual, household and county with the multilevel Logistic model. The results are as follows. (1) The spatial heterogeneity makes the peasants who live in the same village have more similarity in migration intentions than those who live in different villages. Single level model ignores the spatial heterogeneity, and the inclusion of the spatial heterogeneity in the multilevel model can yield a better estimated result than single level model. (2) Most of the peasants do not intend to leave the countryside and move to cities in the next five years, and nearly 90% of peasants intend to stay in the countryside. 63.3% of peasants who intend to move to cities incline to moving to small cities and towns (counties, county-level cities and small towns), while 29.8% of peasants tend to move to prefecture-level cities, provincial capital cities and municipalities. (3) The peasants' migration decisions of leaving the countryside and moving to cities can be seen as a two-stage process. First, they decide whether or not to move to cities, and then they need to consider which city to settle down after they decide to leave the countryside. The empirical results show that the first-stage migration intentions are shaped by individual, household, and contextual factors jointly. Specifically, the peasants who have more human capitals (younger, with more education years, with migration experience), the peasants whose household has more children, higher economic status, more lands and more relationships with the city, and the peasants living in developed regions are more likely to move to cities. However, the second-stage migration decision is mainly shaped by regional economic development level and the residence locations. Specifically, the peasants living in undeveloped areas with their current residences not far from large cities have more willingness to move to large cities. (4) Finally, based on these findings above, some policy implications can be drawn. The governments should pay more attentions to improving the attractiveness of county-level cities and towns. And increasing peasants' human capitals and promoting the development of rural economy are the effective ways to promote the development of new urbanization.

Key words: rural-urban migration, urbanization, migration intentions, peasants, multi-level Logistic regression