As Deng Xiaoping’s reforms took effect in the early 1980s, industrial production and exports skyrocketed and this required rural labor to migrate to the urban areas. Migrants were granted temporary status, but not permanent. It is possible, but difficult to transfer one’s hukou from rural to urban. Yet the demand for such transfers has been overwhelming.
Yet, an article in the national newspaper, China Daily could mean a slowdown in the trend. The issue is the cost of living. Reporter Wang Yan notes that, for the first time, there is now a growing demand for transferring hukou residential status from urban to rural. There are currently no routine national procedures for such transfers.
A survey of 120,000 temporary migrant workers in urban areas working by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences research center found that only 25 percent would be interested in trading their rural residency permits for urban residency permits. The survey covered working age adults in 106 prefectures with large urban areas.
The driving factor is economic. As in the United States, where differences in housing affordability are strongly associated with domestic migration trends, costly urban housing in China could be fuelin