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Rural-urban migration in China: policy options for economic growth, environmental sustainability and equity

Gordon McGranahan, Cecilia Tacoli

Book/Report, 67 pages

In China, as in many other countries undergoing rapid economic growth, increasing socio-economic inequalities and environmental damage are the main threats to sustainable urbanization. Drawing on international experiences, this paper describes the key issues in urban change in China and identifies the types of policy approaches that could support more sustainable urbanization. Urbanization and urban growth in China are closely linked to economic growth strategies and their uneven spatial dimension. Hence, despite the fact that China is one of the few countries in the world implementing a household registration system with the explicit aim of directly managing population distribution, rural-urban migration, much of it temporary or unregistered, is currently the main factor contributing to urbanization. The paper presents a number of policy options, the first of which would bring economic benefits, the second environmental benefits and the last three equity benefits. None of these options involve prohibiting or promoting migration; rather, they aim to improve the quality of migration for the migrants themselves, their home areas, the environment and the economy. Keywords: rural-urban

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McGranahan G and C Tacoli (2006) Rural-urban migration in China: policy options for economic growth, environmental sustainability and equity. Human Settlements Working Paper Series Rural-Urban Interactions and Livelihood Strategies No. 12. IIED, London.