Urbanization process models, internal rural-urban migration, and the role of institutions in China : three essays on urbanization and migration
Author(s)Xu, Liyan, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Karen R. Polenske.
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This dissertation is a collection of three essays on urbanization and migration. The first essay is a treatment on the urbanization theory. I discuss the ambiguity in the urban concept, and propose a comprehensive urban concept which includes the demographic, physical, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of urban characteristics. Based on the concept, and through analyses of the countries' preference over specific urban definition methods, I propose the Kuznets Curve for urban definition complexity, and the Hypothesis of the Unbalanced Urbanization Process. I test the hypothesis with a case study of five countries: the United States, Mexico, China, India, and Ethiopia. With the findings I call for a paradigm shift in the study of the urbanization process, which constitutes the general framing of the dissertation. The next two essays concern the application of the framework in a specific country - China, and relevant studies on the country's internal migration. The studies are based on two nation-wide, large-sample surveys on the migrants and rural households' living conditions in 2008-2009 (n=2398) and 2014-2015 (n=2097). In the second essay, I study the life-cycle migration behavior pattern of China's internal rural-urban migrants. I first conduct a statistical treatment of the general demographics as well as individual-level migration-related behavioral patterns of the migrants, and then reconstruct the life history of the migrants through survival analyses on their migrating and return migrating behaviors, and also two Cox proportional hazard models respective to the two survival processes which examine the determinants of such behaviors. Results give rise to an overlapping generational and iterative pattern of the migrants' migration behavior with a filtration mechanism, which I call "the Circle of Life" model. Lastly, in the third essay, I examine the role of China's institutional environment in shaping the unique migration behavior pattern. I conduct a thorough documentation on the evolution, and especially the recent development of China's Hukou (household registration) and land ownership policies, and show the shift of a dual social structure as a result of the policy change. Furthermore, I develop two groups of discrete choice models to examine the formation of the migrants' urban settlement intentions. Overall, I conclude that China's institutions have played an empowering function, thus giving rise to an institution-bound rational choice behavior concerning migration and settlement. Lastly, I briefly discuss the implications of the findings on urbanization and development theories, as well as the policy suggestions.
Thesis: Ph. D. in Urban and Regional Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2016.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.