China's floating population and their settlement intention in the cities: Beyond the Hukou reform

Yu Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    267 Citations (Scopus)


    China's floating population is one of the most mobile populations in the world. Most of its members take the temporary form of migration, and maintain their double (rural and urban) residential status. In recent years, great efforts have been made to reform the household registration (Hukou) system, which has been regarded as the central mechanism underlying the unsettled nature of the floating population, in the hope that they will settle down in the cities and be fully integrated into China's urbanization process. However, the effect of such reform has been limited. Based on a theoretical framework and empirical evidence from a survey, this paper argues that the temporary nature of the floating population is a result of not only the Hukou system, but also the combined effects of the intrinsic demand of the industrial society for temporary migrants, the household strategy of migrants to diversify and maximize economic opportunities and spread economic risk, and certain conditions of the current stage of development. The paper draws policy implications from the analysis, calling for policies not only to facilitate permanent settlement of migrants in the cities but also catering for their needs arising from the temporary form of migration, and their potential roles in the development of their hometowns.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-76
    Number of pages12
    JournalHabitat International
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


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