Rural to urban migration in China

A look at an emerging trend


Chris Maloney


Copyright © 2010 Chris Maloney

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Chapter 1: Introduction

Since China commenced reforms in 1978 to transform it from centrally planned into a market economy, it has experienced a tenfold increase in GDP. In 2006, on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China became the second largest economy in the world only behind the US (CIA 2007).

With a population of over 1.3 billion and a growth rate of 0.6%, the current economic success is due to a constant stream of cheap labour driving industrial development (Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs 2007).

However, not all Chinese are benefiting from the growth of the economy with 130 million falling below the international poverty lines (CIA 2007). Those suffering the most are those in rural China, and the gap between the rich and poor is widening. The reforms to open up the market, have caused a byproduct of significant rural to urban migration, which brings with it business opportunities as well as contentious political issues to deal with.

This paper looks at the rural to urban migration issue and the extent that it has influenced business opportunities for organisations doing business in China. It covers:

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