A Study of Interprovincial Migration in China Using Extended Gravity Models

  • Nina Zhang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

Regional inequality has been put forward in the literature as a major driver of interprovincial migration in China. However, three major levels of regional inequality – rural and urban, province, and region have not been systematically investigated regarding their effects on interprovincial migration. This thesis chooses the gravity model of migration to investigate this. Moreover, three knowledge gaps persist across many studies using gravity models, including the neglect of different migration types, flow data dependencies and possible non-linear distance decay.

These knowledge gaps call into question the applicability of the standard gravity model. Particularly, the issue of flow reciprocity has been largely ignored by the literature; a significant problem given that bilateral flows influence each other and are therefore likely to confound clear understanding of migration. This thesis addresses these gaps by extending the standard gravity model in increasingly advanced ways to study China’s interprovincial migration in 2010.

Interprovincial flows are not homogeneous and can be usefully classified into four different types: ruralrural, rural-urban, urban-urban and urban-rural migration. Results show that these four types of flow may differ from each other in their causes. Urban-urban migration is found to be under-researched but
the most representative of all types based on number of similar coefficients. Therefore, it is then selected to further examine data dependence and non-linear distance decay. Results reveal that urban-urban interprovincial flows neither are independent nor entirely obey the gravitation law of distance decay.

In bridging these knowledge gaps, this thesis has made methodological and theoretical contributions to improving the understanding of China’s interprovincial migration. The proposed multilevel gravity model could also be used in other bilateral flow studies such as trade and traffic, with particular strength in coping with data dependencies. My findings also have policy implications regarding migration governance and regional inequality reduction.
Date of Award19 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorGeorge B Leckie (Supervisor), Wenfei Winnie Wang (Supervisor) & Richard J Harris (Supervisor)

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