Industry selection of regional migrants in China : The role of urban industry structures of home and destination

Xiangjun MA, Larry QIU, Hyelim SON

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Regional migrants constitute a large share of the labour market in China and therefore have important implications for welfare, resource reallocation and economic development. However, few works exist in studying how regional migrants select industries in destination cities. This study examines the role of urban industry structures of migrants' origin and destination locations in determining the industry selection of regional migrant workers in China. We apply a variant of the Roy model to guide the empirical analysis and generate the following predictions: the industry selection of a cross-province migrant is negatively affected by the industry strength of her home province and positively affected by that of her destination. Using data from a nationwide migrant survey in China, we verify the patterns of migrants' industry selection consistent with the predictions of the model. We also find that regional migration is more likely to occur between the origin and destination with more dissimilar industry structures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe World Economy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Mi Dai, John Giles, Shi Li, Peter Neary and Gianmaco Ottaviano for their comments and suggestions. We benefit from the presentations in seminars and conferences including UIBE Workshop on International Trade and FDI and GEP Conference on ‘Migration and the Reshaping of Consumption Patterns: Economics and Politics’. We also thank the anonymous referees for their constructive comments and suggestions. This project is supported by The Hong Kong SAR Government's RGC Competitive Earmarked Research Grant [HKU 17502217], National Natural Science Foundation of China [71503045] and Beijing Social Science Funding [15JGC158].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Roy model
  • industry selection
  • industry strength
  • regional migration


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